o A Mouse in the Manse Lavinia Derwent (Arrow £1 .95) lrreverent recollections of life in pre-war Scotland as the young minister‘s even younger sister and sore-pressed housekeeper. Sharply observed and gently amusing from start to end. 0 Iona John L. Paterson (John Murray £8.95) Interesting and comprehensive short text in form of conducted walk around the island‘s main features. followed by over sixty pages of bold black and white photos. A refreshingly dramatic yet intimate portrait. O Auld Rookies Christie. Cornwall. Dillon. Kelly. Shields (Rookbook Publications £2.95) A rare. time-locked medley. this: 89 poems by five Edinburgh writers. covering remarkably similar themes in rather similar style. Titles such as ‘Ahwishahwuzzinwishaw‘ catch the eye. as do rhymes like:
all the stains that wouldnae clean
told ma maw it wis jist ice cream.
Pervaded by nostalgia for Dylan
and the mini skirt. the collection is dominated by reﬂections on first sex. love and disillusion. There are flashes ofwit and unusual imagery. but this kind of poetry loses much of its impact in cold print and would be best appreciated in performance.
0 Hungry Hearts and Other Stories Anzia Yezierska (Virago £4.50). ‘1 could dance myselfover the waves to America.‘ laughs one of Yezierzska's character. intoxicated in her russian pogrom by ‘the golden land‘.
First published in 1920. these are stories ofJewish immigrants faced with the realities of poverty and slave labour which awaited them in New York. But struggling against their surroundings are Yezierska‘s exuberant - often autobiographical — heroines. hungry for education. love and for ‘becoming a person‘. 'l'heir vitality gives the stories the feeling of an explosive energy. but one which is frequently squandered in the fight
merely to stay alive. As one disillusioned woman cries. 'l)idl wake myself from dreaming to see myself back in the black times of Russia under the Czar.”
This cynicism with the American dream makes the book equally relevant now when immigrants are fleeing dictators other than the Czar. (Elizabeth Burns)
0 Ellen lta Daly (Black Swan £2.95) The story of an Irish girl’s destructive obsession with maintaining her
new ly-found idyllic way of life which threatens not only to rob her of her naiver but also her reason. Eponymous Fallen — prey or predator — transforms from uninspired child to a woman of high expectations aftera chance meeting with the lively Myra. A well-written. compulsively-readable. sting-in-the—tail tale. ((iacl Norton)
0 Anywhere But Here Mona Simpson (Bloomsbury £ 12.95) There were three passions in Adele's life: difficult men. expensive clothing— ‘neither obtained by the usual methods‘ — and her daughter Ann. Stealing a white Lagonda that she couldn‘t live without and abandoning her second. bemused husband. she sets off with her twelve year-old to California. intending Ann to reach TV stardom. while she finds herselfa rich husband. Bouncing cheques across the States. living on dreams and icecream sundaes. they finally settle in Beverly Hills where life is less than rosy. Better than Wisconsin. though: with plastic surgeons and orthodontists to hand. high class schools and the right sort of people. Ann cannot fail to be the success her mother wants: but her good luck. when its strikes. does not embrace Adele.
Very little happens in the ten or so years this story spans. and when it does it‘s swamped in details of clothes. food and furniture — or the lack ofthem. Yet it‘s irritatineg
gripping. As the pair move between ﬂats. jobs and unsatisfactory lovers. a masterly picture is drawn. of a woman who pins her life around a reluctant daughter and will not let her breathe: who lives on fantasy. and deceives herself more than anyone else.
Written through the voices ofa child and sisterin jigsaw-fitting time-leaps. Anywhere But Here is a subtle and poignant tale of the contradictions of love. ofobsessive mothering which can only end in loneliness. and ofan intelligent women‘s inability to stand her ground and face reality. (Rosemary Goring)
0 Rough Seas Tom Pow (Canongate £4.95) Rivers within us and seas all about — how to describe Tom Pow‘s relation to water? Many of the poems in his volume Rough Seas feature water at centre or periphery. and gradually boundaries dissolve as fluidity and transformation take hold ofthe book. Whether sifting fragments of war through a child‘s eyes, or recalling the sojourn of destitute, elderly eccentrics along Princes Street. these poems speak about perspective. Tom Pow‘s images change as his vision expands: he is not unwilling to challenge what might be assumptions about ordinary life.
The strongest poems tell stories and with narrative subtlety Pow erects concrete. poetic conceptions. Bored local residents in ‘The Ship‘ revive the once illustrious spirit of their port town in resolutions ‘to dissolve what we'd become. to hold/onto this profligate world/of dreams and possibilities.‘ In ‘Going Downtown‘. 3 Manhattan
panhandler explains his predicament openly to a carriageful of urban underground travellers: he retains his dignity in squared shoulders. reverential thankyous. The six parts of‘The River' reveal water as soothing the deep unpredictable streams ofhuman energy. And the very fine childhood poem ‘I lalf Day‘ presents a family‘s chance sighting of a dirigible: over the ‘ruined ark on Calton Hill‘ ﬂoats the magical ship with all its world war connotations. The dirigible reappears symbolically in sleep. and Pow leaves us with a vivid sense of a child's indoctrination to moral uncertainty.
When attempting to pose overtly philosophical questions. or express the world's more urgent contradicitons through the medium ofa love relationship. Pow lacks just slightly the vivacity of his story-poems. Some words seem pulled from the dictionary rather than poetic context. but the consistently imaginative excellence ofRough Seas affirms its high degree ofcreative achievement. ((‘heryl Foster)
0 The Killjoy Anne Fine (Black Swan £2.95) The only thing Professor Ian Laidlaw ever envied anyone was being treated as a human being. Scarred to the point ofghoulishness by a childhood encounter with an alsation. he leads an outwardly urbane and ordered life. moulding himselfinto as routine a rut as possible.
It takes Alicia. a particularly average and insensitive student. whose only skill is in bed. to bring him alive. sexually and sadistically. and to discover that the professor is as scarred inside as out.
Fascinated by his ugliness. Alicia wallows in increasingly masochistic pleasure. Laidlaw in return leaches her dry through relentless interrogation. searching through the detail of her unremarkable childhood for a clue to what was missing in his. But once he has exposed her entirely. ‘both in body and mind‘. his obsession is sated. and it is at this point that his true menace surfaces.
Set in 198(ls' Edinburgh. and written in the form of a confession to an unheard investigator. the Killjoy's end is implicit in its beginning. Laidlaw"s voice - plausible and sane — the pace. and
sheer unpleasantness. make compelling reading. but there is more here than just a glimpse of the darker edges ofsexual gratification.
The List 12 — 25 June 43