o The Lady Investigates Patricia Craig and Mary (‘adogan (Oxford UP £3.95) Informed survey ofwornen in the detective story from the Victorian investigators. who tended to end their sleuthing careers at the matrimonial altar rather than the Reichenbach Falls. to P. D. James‘ tough cookie. (‘ordelia Gray.
0 Twelve More Modern Scottish Poets Edited by (‘harles King and Iain ('richton Smith (llodder and Stougbton £3.75 ) The ‘more’ does not infer weariness but is evidence of the healthy state of the Muse in Caledonia. Douglas Dunn. Burns Singer. Tom Leonard. Valerie (iillies. (LS Fraser. George (‘ampbell Hay. Alastair Mackie. Maurice Lindsay. W.S Graham. Stewart (‘onn and Liz Lochhead all get more than a word in edgeways and there is a useful bibliography compiled by Tom Hubbard ofthe Scottish Poetry Library.
0 The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor (‘ameron McCabe (Penguin £3.95) The crime novel equivalent to Six
( ‘ltaracrars‘ in Search ()fan Author. The copyright statement makes the unique suggestion that anyone who doesn't believe that the characters in the book are imaginary will be accusing the author of fibbing and could be sued for libel. Lucky for them Mc(‘abe is kaput.
Cover illustration by harry Horse torr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. See Review.
0 Swansong Richard Francis (Collins £10.95). Britain is heading for
: catastrophe. At the helm is Mrs Cheeseman. the ‘most active Prime Minister of modern times'. afflicted with deafness since learning she has become a Post-Keynesian. Strong measures are required to salvage the economy the Right Way. before it
34 Tuly 4 7 August
begins to pick up of its own accord. The solution: a restructuring in which mass unemployment becomes the ‘sine qua non in a new celebration ofleisure values‘. and beginning with a war over Farquhar Island in the South Atlantic. intended to reinvigorate the Navy. economy and morale.
With a cast ofwhat feels like thousands. Francis looks at culture in the 80s. through a bizarre range of characters. whose lives entwine as the action converges on the island. There‘s Frankie who proves to be the Third Sex. ‘21 male homosexual trapped in a woman’s body': Premo Bulge. pig artist with one fan and a foul line in lyrics: Nicola. pregnant. haunted by her dead sister and starving to death; Tom. whose guilt over a multiple rape leads him to confront the ‘animal within‘ and later an unsuspecting sheep; and Laurette. ‘marginally screwed-up'. whose adolescent trauma in a swimming pool can never be forgotten.
Swansng is occasionally gripping. often amusing. but mostly frustrating. Francis‘ scope is huge. and to achieve his effect he has had to be to clever. While his insights into political manoeuvring are scorching. his synthesis of Britain today. its expectations. hang-ups and contradictions. is frequently confusing. This lessens the impact of his theme. and ofhis vision ofthe future. where Britain rises again over the waves. no longer fit to rule. but a grotesque parody. (Rosemary Goring)
0 Strange Case of DrJekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson (Canongate £9.95); RLS 86: Souvenir Brochure (Cityof Edinburgh District Council £1 .50). Far from allowing RLS to RIP. the centenary ofthe publication of Kidnapped and Dr Jekyll has prompted a tremendous resurgence of interest in one of Scotland‘s most attractive and accomplished ofwriters. Talks. exhibitions. plays and an inaugural Stevenson Supper are all included in an ambitious programme ofevents initiated by Edinburgh City Libraries. Inevitany there had to be a ‘centenary‘ edition of DrJeky/l. the work which turned Stevenson into a public celebrity. and Canongate have produced a dinky. attractive volume. decorated with a headband and Harry Horse's nightmarish pen and ink drawings. Like Ralph Steadman‘s manic illustrations to Treasure Island (exhibited at the Netherbow Arts Centre. Edinburgh) they illuminate and redefine the text in a most startling and original manner. For a book produced in
i . . ‘white-hot haste‘ and which. according to Stevenson. was ‘conceived. written. re-written. and printed inside ten weeks'. it has done remarkably well. It's nightmarish treatment of a tortured man trying to cope with his malevolent double is timeless and though its setting is ostensibly London the footsteps of the alter egos. based on Deacon Brodie. reverberate on the cobblestones of Edinburgh which Stevenson knew so well. He always had an ambivalent attitude towards Edinburgh encouraged by Glaswegians who delighted in his carping. But as W. Gordon Smith remarks. in his contribution to the riotoust colourful commemorative
brochure to the RLS 86 celebrations.
Stevenson saw no reason for them to be complacent. With more than the hint ofa threat he wrote: ‘1 have not yet written a book about Glasgow.‘ Nor will he now. ((‘live Yellowjohn)
TOP TEN SCOTTISH BESTSELLERS
1. A Century of the Scottish People T.C. Smout (Collins £15) ‘Social history at its best: minutely researched. illuminating in its analysis. and. in a broad yet tightly controlled argument. places Scotland‘s experience then. and now. powerfully in perspective.‘ The List.
2. Scotland Bloody Scotland Frank Renwick (Canongate £2.95)
Irreverent. cartoon look at Scotland‘s history.
3. Edinburgh (‘olin Baxter(R. Drew £9.95) A photographic view through a filter lens which makes a virtue of decay.
4. Experience Scotland—Edinburgh Colin Baxter (R. Drew £2.50) Snap. butcheapen
5. Commonwealth Games Official Handbook (Commonwealth Games Consortium £4.95) ‘Replete with reminiscences. records. medal tables and a guide to venues. . . a must for the Games enthusiast.~ — The List.
6. The Boys in Maroon .lohn Fairgrieve (Mainstream £4.95) Anecdotal account of l learts‘ failure at the last hurdle. A dubious bonus is the complete lyrics of the 'I‘ynecastle anthem.
7. Music Hall Memories .lack IIouse (R. Drew £3.50) The ubiquitous Glaswegian reminisces.
8. SkyeZTheISlandJamesllunter and Cailean Maclean (Mainstream £10.95) Unsentimental view ofSkye past and present. ably abetted by bleak. broody photographs.
9. Experience Scotland—Glasgow Colin Baxter (R. Drew £2.50) West side story of-l.
10. More Classroom Clangers John Muir (Gordon Wright £1 .95) Faux pas from the weans.
The List ofTop Ten Bestsellers published in Scotland is compiled by The Scottish Book Marketing Group. Comments are by The List.
Edited by Charles King and Iain Crichton Smith
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