up. Certainly not immediately after the kind articulated in Clive
Sinclair’s Diaspora Blues (Cape £11.95), in which the London-born Jewish novelist goes ‘home‘ to Israel
. It is incrsive, anecdotal and, too consciously, book—making. So too is David Rieff's Going to Miami (Bloomsbury £12.95), though I still don‘t know why he went. As far as I’m concerned Crockett and Tubbs are welcome to it.
I would rather be almost anywhere else; with Jim Curran whose book K2, Triumph and Tragedy (Hodder & Stoughton £12.95) tells what it was like to on the world’s second highest mountain during a tragic summer; with Pulitzer prizewinner Helen Winternitz who went East Along the
'Equator (Bodley Head £15) down the Congo; or with a trio of Aussies — Thomas Keneally, Robyn Davidson and Patsy Adam-Smith who in Australia: Beyond the Dreamtime (BBC £14.95) celebrate the coming of the bicentenary of the place of which the first settlers said ‘Here nature is reversed.‘ (Clive
Iormative inlluence on his lile was the witnessing oI the colourful and dramatic events surrounding the revolution in 1917 which brought Haile Selassie to prominence.
Thesiger was 'ust seven at the time and it made an‘ ndelihle Im resslon. I don't think that anyone’s chi dhood has had that Iniluence on the rest oi their lives as mine had. And I was determined to get back there. And I did when Ilaiie Selassie invited me to his Coronation.'
lie was determined to return, to adopt the nomadic liie, as an explorer and
, v .v " . Ir ‘5. ,_ .. » " » . sag. . “ﬂ; ~~
' ' t .' -,’i~ ".k'fjaﬁi- .- -“
1.6!“ -‘\' ,, “1’ I, , " ,-. . "w? a)“
. .l- ,ilfdv __ _:- r e , s‘
t. 4‘. RE 52%.” ~‘ .' '- ;:. .z 7 u -s.'
Novelist William Boyd talks to Alan Taylor. Plus Iiction reviews.
Forget the Booker bashing. Penelope Lively‘s Moon Tiger (Deutsch £9.95) is a high-class novel and a winner worthy of the most prestigious prize for fiction. Claudia Hampton, a pot-boiler historian, is dying in hospital and cannot resist recreating her past in the mannner in which she brought alive the past of others. It is a meditative novel, with a marvellous sense of place and time, and utterly convincing, particularly in its evocation of Egypt during the Second World War.
Equally evocative is The House OI Hospitalities (Faber £10.95) by Emma Tennant, trumpeted as the first in a series of novels, a.k.a. Anthony Powell, which takes four girls and follows their fortunes from school in the Fifties presumably through to the present. The overture is set mainly in a country house to
educator, among the Banakii, the Sudanese, the Bedu and the Masai, whose ways oi lile have changed irretrievably in Thesiger’s liletlme. It saddens him proloundly and he hopes that nothing he did or wrote hastened the inevitable though he realised outsiders would use the ma s he made. ‘In an case‘, he sai , ‘looming like a black c oud on the horizon, were the oil companies.’
Now he lives mostly in lien a among the Samburu, but he eeps a Iat in Chelsea, where his 92 year old housekeeper appears annually to look alter him. Loyal himseli, he inspires I aIty In others.
e is glad to have lived when he did, during what he regards as the last act tor mankind. We have, by his reckonin , 100 years Ielt. ‘I think we‘re living rig tat the end olthe human race. Pollution. Acid rain. The almost certainly oi atomic warlare, thou h not between Russia and the United 8 las- I think both sides will have enough sense not to do it. It’s ultimately going to be between the Arabs and isrselis, the Pakistanis and indians. To say you can stop the prollleratlon oi wea ons seems to me nonsense. When I l rst went to the borders ol the Yemen I knew the army had WW1 rilles, a law machine uns and perhaps a couple oi annoure cars. When I went back 15 years later, when the war was on, that same army had pollution bombers, MIG lighters, armoured cars tanks, artillery and were using poisoned gas. How are we ultimately olng to stop the Gadaliis and others ge Ing atomic weapons?’
In a nearby bookshop, his readers were waiting. Like a man about to lace a thing, uad he wanted to get It over with. a king along the road our talk turned darkly to the world’s iuture. Did he really think we had onl 100 years Ieit? ‘Ilot so much probabI’. Perhaps only 50.’ Was he a esslm st7, I wondered. ‘Oh no, ‘m a born optimist‘, he replied, as II I were llewby about to blow up an alrbed, and Iollo ed across the road oblivious to the ba Ic.
* Late night shopping, seven days a week
* Free gift-wrapping * Credit cards welcome
EMPIRE Gore Vidal £11.95. (A few signed copies available)
VISIONS OF A NOMAD Wilfred Thesiger £20
YES, PRIME MINISTER, VOL 11 BBC Books £9.95
Monday — Friday 9.30am - 10pm Saturday 9.30am - 7pm Sunday 12 noon - 7pm
Scotland ’3 finest bookshop’
114—1 16 GEORGE STREET, EDINBURGH Telephone: 031 225 3436
The List 27 Nov — 10 Dec 1987 45