0 Sick i-leart River John Buchan (Penguin £2.25) Leithen has one year to live but instead of wilting he chooses to spend it tracking down a young French Canadian in the Arctic. A chilly Heart of Darkness.
0 The Notebooks oi Samuel Butler Edited by Henry Festing Jones (Hogarth £3.95) Published posthumously in 1912 these jottings by the author of Erenwhon and The Way ofAlI Flesh bulge with wit and eccentricity, and not a little dullness. 0 Edinburgh Review 71 (Polygon £2.95) Perverse assemblage of immature thoughts and pseudish ‘ideas‘. Includes a worthy symposium on the Concise Scots Dictionary and a charming memoir of George Friel.
o The Emancipated George Gissing (Hogarth £3.95) Neapolitain—ﬂavoured fiction in which a young Lancastrian widow dallies with her countrymen abroad but finds them inhibited at home. Not Virago bloodstock despite insinuating title.
0 Letters to Sherlock Holmes Edited by Richard Lancelyn Green (Penguin £4.95) The Abbey National Building Society which now occupies 221b Baker Street has been receiving letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes for over 50 years. Could he solve the nuclear arms race? Is Howard Hughes dead or alive? How about tracing a kidnapped tarantula? Time to resurrect the super sleuth, methinks. o The World We Left Behind: it Chronicle oi the Year 1939 Robert Kee (Sphere £4.95) Newspaper-based evocation of days preceding the war.
0 The Bull Calves Naomi Mitchison (Richard Drew £4.95) Welcome reissue ofthis expansive. mellow family saga set in Perthshire in the aftermath ofthe ‘45.
O Nunaga Duncan Pryde (Eland £4.95) An unconventional emigrant from the dear green place. Duncan Pryde went to Canada to try his hand at fur-trading. With the eskimos he also indulged in wife-swapping. nose-rubbing (‘rubbing noses can be very exciting if it is done the right way with the right noses‘) and blood feuds. More apocryphal than anthropological.
O The Untidy Pilgrim Eugene Walter (Methuen £3.95) A hick from the sticks puts up at the eccentric Miss Fifields‘ in Mobile. Alabama. Brilliant. infectious comic first novel. Reprint ofthe year.
0 Most Dangerous Women Anne Wiltsher (Pandora £5.95) The story of the feminist peace campaigners of the Great War.
0 The Broonie, Silkies and Fairies: Travellers’ Tales Duncan Williamson (Canongate £7.95 Hardback. £3.95 Paperback) Duncan Williamson has a unique gift. not for inventing stories. that he never does. but for remembering them. While most of us are pleased ifwe can recall and tell one good story. Williamson claims to know over three thousand
traditional tales. A publisher‘s
l goldmine. This new collection
5 contains a manageable twelve. all
i with an ‘other world‘ theme.
i We all know what a fairy is— a little l
person who kicks slates off roofs and plants mushrooms in a ring— but the broonies and silkies are unfamiliar
Kelpies, according to The Concise Scots Dictionary are eguine water demons, who haunt rivers and lure the unwary to their deaths. More to the point, they are also a series at paperback reprints tor children. Canongate, the publisher, together with BBC Scotland and the Scottish Library Association, has mounted ‘A Guest tor a Kelpie’, a competition to discover an original work tor eight to twelve year olds. The prize is publication in the Canongate Kelpies series and dramatisatlon on BBc Radio There’s no constraint on setting or period, but it is assumed that the author’s experience oi Scotland, though not necessarily central to the story, will be reilected in it. A panel oi experts will sort out the wheat irom the chail, and tour ‘distinguished’ judges, chaired by the personable Frank
I; Delaney, will pickthe winner.
Entries ought to be between 30,000 - 60,000 words and while the winner won't be announced until around this time next year, typescripts must be submitted by 30 June 1986, so you’d better get cracking. Further details irom A Quest for A Kelpie, BBC Educational Radio, RP Box 310, Edinburgh £R21lltl. (Alan Taylor)
creatures. The travellers and crofters ofthe West Highlands know them well and these tales have been handed down for generations. Williamson prefaces each story with some history about where he first heard it and whether it is true. Most are believed by the teller but the reader is invited to make up his own mind. Whatever your beliefin fairies may be. there can be no doubt about the moral being taught. Happy endings are not guaranteed and
violence is occasionally required to get the point across. Angus. the selfish and cruel crofter in "The (‘rofter‘s Mistake‘ learns his lesson the hard way when the silkies-seal-folk snap off his fingers and toes. A trick like that would certainly make an impact on the cullers.
Williamson‘s wife Linda is responsible for transcribing these tales from tape. The result is an oral texture which not only preserves for posterity but encourages the continuance of a dying tradition. Alan Heriot's illustrations are beautiful. making the book a pleasure to own or give as a Christmas gift. Children are bound to enjoy these tales. particularly the ones with unhappy endings and missing toes. But it is not necessarily a children's book. this is a valuable piece of Scottish folklore. as much for the stories themselves as for the incidental information about the traveller‘s life. Above all a traveller enjoys a good ‘crack'. as do most of us, we just aren't as good at remembering them. (Tami Cushing-Allan)
o The Beatles Hunter Davies (Jonathan Cape £7.95) Updated. with a new introduction and postscript (giving McCartney the last word — a lengthy tirade somewhat at odds with the rest of the book) this is still the only authorised biography of pop music‘s most explosive and enduring phenomenon. It‘s a timely and welcome re-issue. following the fortunes made by less-than-scrupulous writers who had never even met The Beatles. but cashed in on the name. relying on secondhand quotes and opinions.
In contrast, Hunter Davies spent hours with The Beatles. but wasn‘t part oftheir close-knit organisation. so had no scores to settle. It is clear that they felt at ease with him. and he captures their personalities better than anyone else before or since.
There are also fascinating
descriptions of Lennon and McCartney writing the songs for ‘Sergeant Pepper‘. the sort ofscene hardly ever glimpsed by an outsider; and with the project having the full consent of band and management. relatives and friends were happy to
_ open up after years ofsilence. Evert
Pete Best. the drummer ousted in favour of Ringo. tells his story to Davies. The result is a superb account of the group‘s early days. from childhood to their first recording contract. the best part of the book. The whole biography is
written with a fan’s urgency. which is
most infectious and tnakes the tale immensely readable.
No less readable. but more reﬂective and tinged with nostalgia. is the new introduction. which fills out the story rather than extending it. and mainly concerns Davies‘
relationship with the group. Pages of
the original manuscript are reproduced along with Lennon's Aunt Mimi‘s ‘corrections'. Most of the book is as it was when first
published in 1968 at the insistence of
the relatives of'l'he Beatles and Brian Epstein. and the more scandalous revelations are mentioned in the introduction. without being dwelt on. The Beatles isn't as mercilessly detailed as Peter Brown‘s The Love You Make. but what it does have is page after page ofcandid conversation from the mouths of the Fab Four themselves. If. like Davies. you are ‘bored by the later rows and the silly scandals and the legal arguments‘. this is the only Beatles book you‘ll ever want or
With new cookery books coming out
all the time it is always a problem shopping for something that gives a
good basic explanation of techniques
and recipes. and/or is genuinely innovative. The following suggestions do not pretend to be the definitive shortlist oftitlcs in print but I do know they will be welcomed and used by anyone interested in food and its preparation.
French cooking. or at least French style cooking. is still in the vanguard ofworld cuisine due to the range of produce and the enthusiasm of the chefs and consumers; and one of the best introductions to the subject has
to be Mastering the Art at French Cookery by Simone Beck et al. (£3.95 Penguin). This is a book that wears out.
Do not be put off by the rather stark appearance (no glossy photographs) of Richard Olncy‘s Simple French Food (£2.95 Penguin). A truly inspiring ‘teaching‘ chef. he was the first food writer in forty years to successfully prosecute another for
The List 13 Dec-9Jan 45