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the wet mashed potato ot the literary

world. Bearded baddies. leggy women and the use of ‘shit' once. followed by ‘aw. hell!‘ in really dire straits make it all frighteningly convincing. Potential naughty bits trail off into Cartlandesque dot dot dots plus lights-out time. The sci-fi feminism condescendingly acknowledges that women have got a point in the face ofdaily thrashings by the brutal Holnists. Generally. it‘s a kind of anti-Rambo novel that still can‘t resist a few meaty punch-ups. Ifyou bother to read it. notice the subtle diatribe. In Defence of Science: ‘It waspeople not science. that wrecked the world'. In Praise ofthe US: "They were a strong people. the strongest the world has ever known. But that hardly seemed to matter to them. When they had a chance to conquer the entire world. they simply ignored the opportunity.‘ ‘. . . they did not deserve what happened to them.‘

And so on. No doubt some Gorm will spend his pocket-money on the shiny red lettering. Mr Brin lists ‘generic eclecticism‘ as one of his interests in the authorial blurb. Perhaps he should just stick to that. (Kristina Woolnough)

o Blessed are the Meek Deyes Hutton (Book Guild £9.50) Abducted from a beach on the Isle of Lewis. an astro-physics student is drawn into an alien people‘s struggle to survive. Can the descendants of the survivors of the explosion that created the asteroids improve the genetic pool of their race. colonise a hitherto hostile planet. and vacate their secret. temporary. Earth bases? Will Hilda be cured of leukemia? Suspense is carefully measured out in a steady crescendo from start to finish as Deyes Hutton skilfully combines love and sex. death and resurrection. ancient myths. UFOs. surrogate motherhood and anti-gravity into a curiously successful retelling ofan old parable. The warning— against the secretive. oppressive society demanded by Chernobyl. Scllal‘ield and Ringtail Island leaves the reader in no doubt that nuclear weapons must be abolished ifthe meek. not the nucelar barons. are to inherit the earth. and the third planet is not to become like the fifth. (Nicholas Whitehead)

0 The Horn Fellow Dominic Cooper (Faber£9.95) ‘Make him come tonight.‘ says young Aithne to Dillo. She does. and a chain of revenge and intrigue is triggered among the forest folk. This is a savage tale ofprimitive life. where a male elite live apart in the Scaur. worshipping their deer-god. the Horn Fellow. Their women. relegated to a damp existence on a river island. are only approached at certain ritual times for a few hours' frantic rutting.

New to the forest comes Thcuda. word-speaker and visionary. in search oftruth. In Aithne he recognises the spirit he longs to serve. Wrongly believing she has mated with one ofthe Scaur men. he contrives his death, only later

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discovering his mistake. But the catalyst can‘t be reversed. and. relentless. the consequences unfold. meshed with the growing anger and violence of the river-women.

The Horn Fellow is not only an archetypal allegory ofstruggle between the sexes. but the story of one man's quest for a god and understanding. taking him to the brink of sanity. Cooper writes with vivid. poetic strokes. masterly in his portrayal of nature and man’s place within it. While I found the story unconvincing. the force ofCoopcr‘s language maintains its momentum. Regardless ofcontent. this is a work to read for style alone. (Rosemary Goring)


This list. the first in a new series. has been compiled by the First of May Bookshop. 43 Candlemaker Row. Edinburgh and Lavender Menace 11a Forth Street. Edinburgh.

1. The Unrepeatable It Steve Bell (Methuen £3.95) Manic anti-establishment cartooning from the past year‘s Guardian.

2. Women Living the Strike Lothian Miners‘ Wives (Lothian Women’s Support Group £2.95) Vivid first-hand accounts of the strike from those it affected most.

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3. Babycakes Armistead Maupin (Corgi £3.95) Fourth volume ofthe ‘tales of the city‘ series brings us to London to visit the Queen.

4. Horizon ot the Heart Shelley Smith (Naiad Press £6.95) Danni‘s success leaves her empty until she meets Jenny on a deserted beach.

5. Wayward Girls and Wicked Women Edited by Angela Carter (Virago £4.50) Wide range ofshort stories by women celebrating their wild heroines.

5. Neap Tide Sarah Daniels (Methuen £2.95) The award-winning play in which a lesbian teacher refuses to use the old excuses when she finds two girls kissing in school.

7. The Big Man William McIlvanney (Sceptre £3.50) Compelling tale of small-town Scotland and its idiosyncratic characters.

8. Once Alice Walker (Women‘s Press £2.95) You‘ve seen the film read the book. now read the early poetry.

9. The House at the Spirits Isabel Allende (Black Swan £3.95) Magic

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realism and politics blend brilliantly in ‘the perfect novel‘ (Fay Weldon). 10. The Sexual Perspective Emmanuel Cooper (RKP £8.95) Homosexuality and Art in the last hundred years in the West.


O The Big Man William McIlvanney (Septre £3.50) Desperate Dan Scoular squares up to the Glasgow hardman inspired by some bare-knuckled prose. Mucho macho.

o Other Passports: Poems 1958—1985 Clive James (Jonathan Cape £9.95) The antipodean McGonagall sends wordy despatches from wine bar land. ‘At any length.‘ says the bard. ‘the aim is brevit.‘ Methinks the sould of this wit is beyond saving.

0 Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews 7th series. Edited by George Plimpton (Secker & Warburg£17.5()) With their evocative prefaces and intelligent probing the PR people encourage writers to reveal more about themselves than many seem willing to do. Though there‘s a tendency towards indulging the lions of the New York literary scene. there‘s enought here to suggest there‘s still life left in the old format. Among those interrogated are Ionesco. Kundera. Edna O‘Brien. Ashbery. Roth. and Philip Larkin who when asked. ‘How did you arrive upon the image of a toad for work or labour?‘ volunteers the reply. ‘Sheer genius.‘ o A Fine Excessiane Ellison (Black Swan £3.95) Painfully accurate and uproarious send-up ofwhat happens behind the scenes at poetry competitions by one of Lord Gnome‘s hackettes.

o Granta No 20 (Penguin £3.95) Under the rubric of ‘In Trouble Again‘ this issue concentrates on travel writing with Hanif Kureishi‘s (he of My Beautiful Laundrette renown) interpretation oflife in Bradford. a glimpse ofChinese family life by Colin Thubron, Salman Rushdie reporting from Nicaragua and halfa dozen other contributions from footloose individuals. But the piece de resistance is by the tubby eccentric. Redmond O‘Hanlon. who bumbles into casinos and paddles up the Amazon where he is abandoned by his compatriot. Originally he intended James Fcnton to relive their Borneo experience. Said the poet. ‘1 would not come with you to High Wycombe.‘

o Slaves of New York Tama J anowitz (Picador £3.50) Winsome stories of very low life in the Big Apple. many featuring the latest pretender to Holden Caufield‘s line in punky chat, Marley Mantello. Janowitz makes a nearer miss than most.

0 Who was Changed and Who was Dead Barbara Comyns (Virago £2.95) Macabre novel. more than a mite surrealistic. set at the dawn of the Great War in a Warwickshirc village beset by flood and plague. A welcome antidote to the Archers.


will be reading from his novel



At Waterstone’s Bookshop 114 George Street, Edi- nburgh on Wednesday 28

January at 7.30pm

and at Hatchard’s Bookshop 50 Gordon Street,

Glasgow on Thursday 5 Feburary at 7.30pm

Published by


on 29 January


The List 23 Jan 5 Feb 37