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Fenton talks on three centuries of rural life.

0 Booker Prlze and Scottish Book Fortnight Party Waterstone’s, 114 George Street, 225 3456. 7.30pm. £2.50. Last year’s bash was quite an event with The List’s own Alan Taylor up against the legendary Owen Dudley Edwards, with Sheena McDonald keeping the show on the road. Another fifty pounds worth of books to be won tonight, but Mr Taylor, snapped up by the Booker Management Committee retires gracefully from the debate.


o The Song ol the Forest Colin Mackay (Flamingo £3.50) Intensely lyrical first novel set in the Dark Ages among a rude and superstitious community in which man lords it over the ladies but not without painful repercussions. A cross between Andrea Dworkin and Watership Down. 0 The Second Oldest Profession Phillip Knightley (Pan £3.50) I spy a superior account of the work of the intelligence services, academically sound and riveting reading. 0 Glasgow Observed Edited by Simon Berry and Hamish Whyte (John Donald £9.95) Chronologically arranged anthology from diverse sources, some familiar some not. The editors’ own commentary is informed and wary of hype and their selection is catholic and pertinent though less good on more recent writers on the dear green place. So there’s room for comic-in-exile, Billy Connolly, but mere mentions in the index of Alasdair Gray and Liz Lochhead, no sign at all of two acerbic penmen, William McIlvanney and George Friel, and not a whimper from Jack House’s heir-apparent —.Iack McLean. O Chemohyl Frederik Pohl (Bantam £4.95) Not a biography of The List’s East Life rake, but a fictionalised account of the nuclear disaster. An imaginative tour-de-force by a sci-fi master. 0 The Gnome ot the Rose Umberto Estrobes (Private Eye/Andre Deutsch £3.50) Or the best of PE 1985-87. Prematurely flagged as this year’s Booker Prize winner. Among the many gems and schoolboy cringes is this scoop from the Commonwealth Games from ace reporters, Seb Cohen and Lunchtime O’Vett: ‘In a new bodyblow to the so-called ‘Friendly Games’, the latest nation to withdraw is Kiri Te Kanawa (formerly the Gilbert and Sullivan Islands).’ Tee Ha Ha. o More Letters ot Oscar Wilde Edited by Rupert Hart-Davis (Oxford UP £4.95) Supplementary to Hart-Davis’ own edition of ‘The Letters’ published in 1962 and now shamefully out of print. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde once wrote, ‘The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.’ Yield ye then to this temptations vol for who would deny a man who thus recommends a friend to ‘dream of

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0 Early Stages John Gielgud (Hodder and Stoughton £7.95) Often moving, sometimes witty and never less than engaging, this is one of the few books by an actor worth reading.

0 The London Embassy Paul Theroux (Penguin £2.50) Sequel to The Consul’s File. Episodic novel which allows the not so innocent abroad to lie back in his adopted home and think of England. Soon to be a ‘thrilling’ TV series.


0 The End at a Dream Gael Elton Mayo (Deutsch ) ‘This is not meant to be a lament for the passing of Europe,’ confesses Gael Mayo in her autobiography, ‘though there is room for nostalgia . . . it is not change that is wrong there has always been change but its rapidity.’ She describes faithfully the two areas of France which have been her home, Franche-Comte and the Vaucluse, and her return to them later, with the predictable changes noted but not mused over. Mayo’s style too is predictable, even pedantic; I wanted to speed up things but perhaps that’s because I am a product of the rapid change society, finding peasant/country life too slow. It is however a quality book which realises its author’s aims. (Sally Ann Kerr) 0 The House at Hospitalltles Emma Tennant (Viking £10.95) Ever wondered what the inside story on English society in the 19505 might be? Then forget the gossip columns welcome to The House of Hospitalities. Three adolescent girls long to be part of the sophisticated life at a fabulous country house, Lovegrove. Set in an enchanted landscape, where Art and Artifice are close cousins, the household appears more caricature than character. A grotesque, drunken writer collapses in the soup at an hilarious dinner-party: the pater familias is a satyr chasing a naked lady through the bamboo, and a lechy painter gets his inspiration by peeking through keyholes. Emma Tennant draws together themes from her earlier work - history, family, the power of emotions into a tapestery of haunting tableaux. Though her style’s oblique she packs the novel with real and delicate detail, but the myths remain intact for the fairytale characters do not want to wake up. (Chris Roberts) 0 Injured Party Susan Fromberg Schaeffer This reminded me of one of Walter Scott’s novels. You could cut the first 200 pages and be left with a rattling good read unfortunately Ms Schaeffer’s effort runs only to 300 pages. A lot of effort has gone into the plot of Injured Party but the beginning, with its cast of unbelievable characters and lack of continuity, managed effectively to kill interest. Eventually, like the summit of a mountain, one does reach the novel’s peak and realise

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“Could be the cult novel

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The natural successor to Less Than Zero


The List 16 - 29 October 51