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0 Secret Villages Douglas Dunn (Faber £3.95) Already established as one of Scotland‘s foremost poets. Dunn. on the evidence ofthis well-tempered. stylish collection. is an impressive short story writer.


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' 0 Nelson Mandela Mary Benson (Penguin £2.50) Biography of the African National Congress leader imprisoned since 1962 but still the personification ofthe anti-apartheid resistance movement. 0 Out of Airica and Shadows on the Grass Karen Blixen (Penguin £3.95) ‘1 had a farm in Africa. at the foot of the Ngong Hills‘. So begins the most celebrated book by a Dane since Hans Christian Andersen. ‘now the subject of a major motion picture‘. It's hard to imagine how CCllUlOid can possibly match Blixen‘s crisp and luminous prose. the story of her love for Kenya and her abortive marriage. 0 The Recognitions and JR William Gaddis (Penguin £7.95 each) Two sprawling novels by one of American‘s most innovative talents. Dialogue . pace lvy Compton Burnett. is Gaddis' forte which he employs assiduously to launch his labyrinthine plots. JR owes nothing. save capitalism to his Dallas namesake. O A Scots Ouair Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Penguin £4.95) Elevated to ‘Modern Classic‘ status there has been no better Scottish novel published this century. and very few before it. David Kerr Cameron contributes a pungent introduction. 0 Europe without Baedeker Edmund Wilson (Hogarth Press £4.95) And with little sympathy. too. Barely had London recovered from the Blitz when it came under fire from Wilson‘s bombast though his own countrymen do not escape his bile.

40 The List 7 20 Feb

Bemoaning signs of Americanization he adds: ‘The British feed themselves on our banality without catching our excitement and gusto. Most of them now chew gum.‘ Wriggley out of that ifyou can.

0 Nuclear Politics Tony Hall (Penguin £3.95) Nuts and bolts history of the rise and dubiety of nuclear power in Britain. Few governments since the fifties emerge untainted.

o The First Boer War Joseph Lehmann (Buchan and Enright £5.95) Masterly and vivid account of a small war that shouldn‘t be missed. 0 How Can We Know? A. N. Wilson (Penguin £2.95) The not-so-young fogey has doubts but manages to resolve them in this personal and energetic exegesis ofwhat Christians believe and why. Hard going for atheists.

o Chapman 42 Edited by Joy Chapman (£1.20) Usual eclectic mix ofthe new and not so new with a substantial section devoted to Hamish Henderson best known for his songs but whose poetry is underrated.

0 Floral Street Simon Burt (Faber £3.95) Varied first collection of short stories. Typical is ‘The General‘s Toothache' in which the desk-bound marksman fires his first shot in anger

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2,. b i i {I to alleviate pain. Efficacious, but there must be better ways to avoid dental charges.

0 The Mystery ofthe Sardine Stefan Themerson (Faber and Faber £9.95) Occam‘s razor, Euclid‘s bottom. an exploding black poodle and the immortality ofgood manners are only a small sample of the riddles hidden in The Mystery ofthe Sardine. Attempting to unravel them is a bizarre cast ofcharacters including ' an eleven year-old mathematical l genius, the Polish Minister of

Imponderabilia. two dancing ladies and a reticent Palrnist who loses and regains her gift. A combination like this could easily be a tedious contrivance. but Stefan ’I'hemerson is a deft stylist and has concocted an enthralling tale.

The plot is a complex series of coincidences leading to a solution both unexpected and delightful. Themerson blends philosophy. science. mathematics. politics and linguistics into a clean.

-‘ - ,‘i i \. unpretentious whodunnit. The temptation is to compare his work with others and although Umberto Eco and Marquez spring to mind. this novel is unique and defies pigeon-holing. Like a challenging game of chess. The Mystery ofthe Sardine stretches the imagination and allows limitless possibilities. ('I‘ami (‘ushing-Allan)

0 A Year and A Day (iael 'I'urnbull (Mariscat Press. £3.60).

This book gives the unpleasant impression of being a cheat. a compromise between time and craftmanship. lf(iael 'l‘urnbull can write. and it is obvious that he can. why has he published his workbook? There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this year-long journal. but there is always the nagging feeling when reading it that this is only the raw material for what should be a finished piece of work.

The daily entries. made from ()ctober 19. 1979 to October 19. 1980. record images. snippets of conversation. memorable graffiti or whatever happened to catch his fancy. As a doctor he is party to some unusual comments which are treated as anonymous quotes: September 5: All my family died before fifty: strokes or cancer or falling off horses!‘ As a poet. 'l'urnbull enjoys wordplay. but here his skill is aimless.

A Yearamlxi Day is weak and unsatisfying. a lazy piece of publishing. Yet it is only a skeleton. perhaps the author will put his Journal to work and then he will be in business. ('I‘ami (‘ushing-.»\llan). o Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars Ron Butlin (Seeker and Warburg £3.95) Ron Butlin‘s third book ofverse brings together some of his previously published work. and

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anydanger. Butthisisaslight quibble: Ron Butlin‘stalent

some more ‘Unfamiliar Bars‘. He treats his subjects with a lightness of touch not so evident in the more ponderous imitations ofChinese poetry in The Exquisite lnsrrimrent. Yet there are still similarities. There is often the vignette which. with impressionistic daubs. feels out of the moment for us. It does more besides. though; Butlin‘s poetry has a thought-provoking depth of ideas. and a startling. sometimes delightful wealth of imagery. And this. along with his skilled manipulation of sound and rhythm. is evidence of another Scottish star in the firmament.

Butlin‘sonly explicit demonstration of his Scottishness. ‘Argentina 1978‘. is a witty evocation of World (‘up fever. But many ofthe poems are flavoured with this wit. which has something peculiarly Scottish about its wry dryness.

tone grates. ()ne senses that the self-mockery derives from a position

Philosopher 'I‘urns Accountant')

which never puts the poetic ego in

should not be overlooked. (Molly Maguire).


The Scottish Arts Council has confirmed that the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa (pronounced ‘yosa‘. to rhyme with Ponderosa). is to be the next Neil (iunn International Fellow and will visit Scotland in ()ctober. Originally. Italo Calvino had accepted an invitation but he died at the end of last year.

Llosa is a virtuoso writer perhaps best known in this country as the author ofA unrJu/ia and the .S‘criptwriter the exuberant and fabulous story of a radio-scriptwriter of Balzacian energy whose forte is soap opera. and Aunt Julia with whom young Mario. the narrator falls scandaloust in love. His latest novel to be published in Britain is The War ofthe End of the World.

During his fortnight stay Llosa will appear in various parts ofScotland and will deliverthe Neil Gunn Lecture. The fellowship is awarded every other year and former recipients include Saul Bellow. Nadine Gordimer. Heinrich Bell. Ruth PrawerJhabvala. Chinua Achebe and Brian Moore.


Writers of short stories are forever bemoaning the dearth of magazines able to publish their wares. But in

this respect the contribution of the Scottish Arts Council and Collins 3 ought not to be sneezed at. Since


1973 they have combined to trawl for the annual collection Scottish Short Stories and this year is no exception. Submissions of up to 9.000 words

must be typewritten. in triplicate and sent to the SAC“? Cheflettg i