o The Juniper Tree Barbara Comyns (Methuen £3.50) Skilfull and sinister novel ofthe friendship between two lonely women. Adapted from the Grimm brothers children‘s fairy story ofthe same name which is ‘far too macabre' for adult consumption.
0 Hitler and the Final Solution Gerald Fleming (Oxford UP £4.95) Comprehensive debunking ofthe theory that Hitler neither ordered or wished the annihilation of the Jews.
0 Scotland’s Quest for the World Cup Clive Leatherdale (John Donald £4.95) Scotland first featured in the World Cup in 1950, and Leatherdale spares no blushes in his colourful (‘Dalglish's wriggling slalom and chip deserved better than to brush the woodwork’) record ofour ill-fated attempts to lift the Jules Rimet trophy. Come June no
; armchair will be complete without it. 0 White Water and Black Gordon MacCreagh (Univ ofChicago £10.25) The adventures ofeight ‘Eminent Scientificos‘ and the author exploring the upper tributaries ofthe Amazon in 1923. OfScottish parentage he serenades the locals on the bagpipges (‘it has
It the past is a foreign country where things are done differently if has not deterred novelists from adopting it as a second home. Joan Lingard, in Reasonable Doubts (Hamish Hamilton £9.95) her latest novel for adults - the distinction is necessary because of her successful alternative career as the author of teenage fiction — takes Thomas, a redundant Baltic Studies lecturer in the middle of a mid-life crisis and an affair with Claire, a liberated advocate of independant means, and surveys him througgh the various women in his life.
‘I don't believe you put the past behind you,‘ says Joan Lingard debunking the cliche. ‘Reasonable Doubts is about what the past means in one's lile.‘ Thomas literally tries to peddle away from his but as he vacillates between married quarters in Portobello, birthplace in the Edinburgh hinterlands and wine, woman and pasta, in the New Town, helinds escape impossible.
Written with consummate elegance Reasonable Doubts is a deceptively intricate and sophisticated book which Joan likens to ‘a square dance’ with
= Thomas ‘setting' to a variety of ; partners. Each takes him deeper into
L 6 “. bihyy ,!Q"'v:; 3mgzujbc‘rrj “ r'". h ’v‘zi z“. n; -I- .— "‘ ‘ ' Pg ~ \ v ‘ ‘1
been spitefully remarked that a man
who would like to learn to play a bagpipe would have no morals anyway‘). dines on monkey stew, dances nude and writes with vivacious. self-denigrating humour. At least as absurd as Peter Fleming‘s Brazilian Adventure. White Water and Black is worth the cover price for the captions to snapshots alone.
0 How Nuclear Weapons Decisions are Made Edited by Scilla McLean (MacMillan £6.95) Compiled from non-classified sources. the Oxford Research Group demystifies previously invisible and unaccountable processes in each of the nuclear nations.
0 Hunca Has (Faber £7.95) The harrowing report of Argentina‘s National Commission into Disappeared People which includes several thousand declarations and testimonies from both civilian and military survivors ofstate terrorism. 0 Sell-Help Samuel Smiles (Penguin £3.95) Mercifully abridged Victorian ticket to the Thatcher Ball. Puffed by Keith Joseph as ‘a book for our times’, by Penguin as ‘a management classic’.
0 How to Survive Children Katherine Whitehorn (Methuen £1.95) Describes the impossible.
his past: Tasha, his spoiled and capricious daughter; Sarah, the dependable domestic spouse privately pursuing her former career as a social writer; his sister Eunice lantaslsing about James Bond (the one who was an Edinburgh milkman) while she leafs
through travel brochures; and his : mother at home nursing a dram and a
broken leg, the living link with the
I family's Latvian forebears. Chauvinist ; pig in the middle of all this is Liffey, a ' sotlish philanderer and school chum of l anon. (Alan Taylor)
; 0 Talking to Myself: A Memoirol M : Times Studs Terkel (Harrap £9.95) ‘1 i tape therefore I am‘ says America's
j most distinguished oral historian in
-' this unusual and brilliant
alternative title: Uher thesunshine of
-: ‘r‘ \ '." ’n‘fnlxaé‘w. ' :3‘
r ’f~,' as. *4” “ -"-<~‘
my Life. (That‘s enough punny stuff.
- Cencrastus No 221986 (£1.50) Of all the local literary magazines kept alive on an Arts Council iron lung Cencrastth is the most fiercely intellectual. frequently exasperating and consistently challenging. Since its debut in 1979 it has achieved some notable scoops; interviews with
' Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Nadine
Gordimer. Doris Lessing; reappraisals of Allan Massie, Gordon Williams, Alasdair Gray. Sorley MacLean, James Kennaway; and new work from diverse sources. A typical Cencrastus is jam-packed with print, huge swathes ofwhich comprise the often incoherent ramblings of university lecturers. Getting at the real, imaginative writing requires patience and. particularly with reference to the ‘Reviews‘ section. a magnifying glass. This issue illustrates well the magazine's strengths and weaknesses and shows how, for example, a wryly~humorous poet like Tom Leonard is affected by the company he finds himself keeping. In ‘How I Became a Sound-Poet‘ he provides my best contender yet for Pseud‘s Corner:
Using a small cassette 1 put together 0
Thomas whom Claire is reluctantly defending against a rape charge. ‘You are getting complicated,’ was
performance piece which I called The Horn of the Hunter. For the ﬁrst part of this I recorded the slow movement of Scriabin '3 First Symphony, accompanied by a friend ’3 superb simulation of a protracted orgasm. While she was thus simulating, I recorded various interjections mainly concerned with the words ‘Rosaleen’ and ‘shite'!
The good news is that Leonard has renounced his sound-poet‘s vocation. But the main thrust of No
22 is extracts from Neal Ascherson’s
Devolution Diary ofwhich a further instalment is promised for a future issue. The entries printed here come from 1977 when Ascherson was a member of the ill-fated Scottish Labour Party and a journalist on The Scotsman, and are redolent of good sense, plain, unpretentious Orwellian writing and. remarkably for events so recent, eerily historic. This is the sort of scoop of which Cencrastus can feel proud though it’s badly scarred by some sloppy copy-editing.
Elsewhere photographs of Ian
; Hamilton Findlay's neo-classical art ; brood like headstones in a shopping mall, relieved only by Edwin
Morgan’s lucid criticism of the guru
of Stonypath‘s early literary career and some splendid splenetic reviewing. By happy circumstance
5 one finds James McMillan ’ recommending the pulping ofJames
D. Young‘s Women and Popular Struggles (‘an atrocious book . . . one is simply astounded and horrified to know that an academic historian at a Scottish university could perpetrate a work of such staggering ineptitude ...‘) adjacenttoa review by. .. James D. Young. Is Cencrastus big enough for both? Seconds out. Flyte! (AFT)
0 John Boorman Michel Ciment = (Faber £25) It is rather a surprise to
how one radio interviewer put it to Joan ; 3 of our most constantly offbeat
and she agrees. After a prolific twenty years she recognises ‘a growing prolessionalism‘ about herwork, marked by a deeper interest in ‘struclure and form’ and an appetite for
experiment. The walls of her cavernous
flat groan with books and though she loves to talk technique and uncover new authors, her work bears no conspicuous scars of influence. She writes ‘about what I know, what I've experienced'. Onlythe locale of the law court was unfamiliar to her in Reasonable Doubts and she trekked daily from the New Town to savour the peculiar ambience of the High Court. Apparently the Odeon can't hold a candle to it for entertainment. ‘A friendly advocate’ dotted is and crossed t's for her but typical of a Joan Lingard novel no judgements are made. The characters go off in search of themselves and the author tells me
of another trip aborad where the
natives were younger. Another teenage
; novel—hersixteenth—isinthe E publisher‘s pipeline. Of that, more
38‘i‘ht- rm 4 a 17 April
ﬁnd such a lavish critical work on one
film-makers, for Boorman has only been working since the late 605. Since then however, he has produced a string ofdiverse and always stylistically daring works
' including Point Blank, Deliverance,
Excalibur, and most recently The Emerald Forest. Perhaps Faber are hoping that he will die and his critical reputation will be elevated from the present view of over-reaching but interesting pretension to one of
shamefully misunderstood genius.
Now if there‘s a book to be written on any British director the British find too difﬁcult to handle, then it’s nearly always left to the French, in this instance Michel Ciment of the French magazine Positif. He does a fine job. Starting with a long general essay, he lucidly roots Boorman's work in dreams and myth, shaped by the twin inﬂuences ofJung and the Arthurian legends into a series of ﬁlms centring on the idea of a quest for knowledge as a central pattern of all human experience. Yet, the cinema is, above all, about images
and Ciment uses a plethora of