: . / . ’
New Book: St Kilda
Launch, a/v presentation, signing session
22 Oct 7pm Royal Scottish Museum. Chambers St, EDINBURGH.
A/v presentations with signing sessions
23 Oct 6.30pm lnverdruie Visitor Centre, AVIEMORE; 24 Oct 7pm John Smith Booksellers, GLASGOW;
25 Oct 7.30pm ABERDEEN Art Gallery;
26 Oct 8pm The Ceilidh Place, ULLAPOOL;
27 Oct 7.30pm Caledonian Hotel, INVERNESS;
28 Oct 7.30pm Alexandra Hotel, FORT WILLIAM;
29 Oct 2-3pm Melven‘s Bookshop, PERTH (no av); 31 Oct 7pm EDINBURGH Bookshop;
1 Nov 7pm Waterstones, PERTH;
2 Nov 7.30pm Civic Centre, EAST KILBRIDE;
3 Nov 7.30pm Blacklocks, DUMFRIES;
4 Nov 7.30pm PAISLEY Town Hall;
5 Nov 10.30am—noon Jenners, EDINBURGH (no av).
Booksellers since 1797
Saturday 15 October KEITH FLOYD
will be signing copies of his
Saturday 22 October WILLIAM BOYD
on publication of his new
new book: Keith Floyd on paperback: The New Britain and Ireland Confessions lpm—me 7 for 7.30pm
Wine will be served
5'0 Gordon Street, Glasgow Telephone: Glasgow 22] 0262
NEW OPENING 'I'IMIL‘S 9am—8pm Mon(lay-Friday 9(1I72—5 . 30pm Saturday l2noon—5pm Sundays; with live music 1—2pm
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and the less-well-known-than-
he-ought-to-be Gordon MacCreagh. It is also instructive. hilarious. dubious. crazy. colourful and slips over as easily as a plateful of piranhas. Read it. count your blessings and leave the phone of the hook. (Alan 'l‘aylor)
BITTER SWEET REVENGE
Sugar and Rum Barry I'nsworth (Hamish Hamilton £1 1.95). At the age ofsixty-three Benson is battered and seedy; his libido is but a memory and his wife has left him. His great book on Liverpool‘s slave trade is hostage to his writer‘s block. a fumbling echo in his mind as he wanders through 'I‘oxteth and other knacker's yard estates surveying the scurvy monuments to 'I'hatcher‘s Britain.
Then a black torso smacks the pavement below high-rise flats. ‘I thought it was a carpet' says Benson. In fact it‘s a suicide and literary symbol. shorthand for the fall in the city‘s fortunes. the nation's health and Benson's personal life and times. Wartime memories ofAnzio. his finest hour. flood back. jogged by meeting an old comrade. now down-and-out. But Slater. their commanding officer. is faring nicely. a merchant banker nostalgically arranging a re-union pageant. Aficionadosof rhyming slang will grasp what L'nsworth thinks of Slater.
The book is a tight and tidy package embracing the jocular and the jugular. Like Benson. L'nsworth finds his target among cream tea Conservatives and his final scenes ~ the timely sabotage of Slater’s show — depict suburban guerilla warfare at its tense and comic best. Enough to stir the stoniest Ileseltini heart! (Tom Adair)
WRIGGLING OUT OF THE DARKNESS
Interlunar Margaret Atwood ((‘ape £5.95). ‘Most suicides are not poets: a good statistic'. writes Atwood in "l'he Words (‘ontinue 'l'heir Journey". and anyone looking for laughs in this anthology should be warned that this is as close as you'll get — a wry smile at lines which betray a decidedly black sense of humour.
Darkness is the theme ofthis collection which begins with her previously published ‘Snake I’oems‘. Here the poetry moves effortlessly from brilliant metaphor to religio-philosophical treatise. as in ‘Quattrocento' where the poet assesses the role of the snake in Man‘s expulsion from Iiden: the snake as progenitor of the human condition. offering ‘the possibility of death‘. Now. like the snake. we ‘must learn to see in darkness'.
The other poems. in three sections under the title ‘Interlunar'. are a mixed bag. Some are fairly obscure and require deconstruction and thought and deal often either with classical mythology or have an Eastern mystical quality.
The collection builds tip into a powerful statement on pain. loss and mortality. Atwood sets out her stall in the title poem: ‘I want to show you the darkness you are so afraid of.‘ That she can do this and still show purpose and meaning to life is a sign ofher remarkable talent. (.lim (ilen)
A TRIVIAL THEOLOGY
The Unquiet Suitcase ( iet'ttiti I’ries’tland ( Deutsch £10.95). A religious affairs correspondent decides to celebrate his (illth birthday by keeping a diary for a year. To call- this book a eurate’s egg is to praise it almost to the limits of honesty. True, there are occasional nuggets of theological comment on topics such as Anglican anti-womenites. (‘rockford's preface. and. in the General [Election year. the theory that (iod was on the side of the ‘ Alliance. But important events of l’riestland's year —- his daughter's Hodgkin's disease. the birth of his first granddaughter. trips to Zambia. .larnaica and the Philippines ~ are scarcely distinguishable among the ‘tircd old anecdotes' (quote from
p. l ) of which the bulk of the hook consists. 'l‘he peppering of anti-'l'hatcher jibes ends limply with a soiree at No. lll. Instead ofgiving us this mass of trivia. Priestland should have waited until he had somethingworthwhile tosay. (Andrew Bethune)
OUT ON THE EDGE
Middlepost Antony Sher ((‘hatto
£1 1.95) Somewhere in the barren drought-drained landscape of South Africa lies Middlepost. a tiny settlement with more than its fair quota of bizarre inhabitants. Unsurprising then that Smous. a Jewish 'half—wit' from Lithuania. should also find himself there on his journey from the homeland.
‘l‘m the fooldon't you know. the one on the road watching life dance away in the distance.' says the anti-hero. sure in the knowledge that no one hears him for. throughout his journey. his Yiddish remains as incomprehensible to others as their Afrikaans. tingliin and tribal languages are to him. It is a challenging linguistiegame played by Sher in which the reader alone hears all.
Smous's staggering naively (at almost forty his concept of ‘Jewish ('opulation‘ is the svv allowing of seed) and his role as observer ( rather than partaker) in life make him open toextraordinary experience. His life. or rather existence. at Middlepost and his encounters with the inhabitants ~ from the [Englishman ()uinn. a self-tortured alcoholic gold-digger whose sexual preferences revolve round lambs and little boys. to Breedt the Boer. who wavers between manic preaching of the gospels and sheer physical brutality —- make for original stuff.
The suffocating heat and stultifying inertia of Middlepost permeate everything and push characters to
GO The List 14 ~ 27 October 1988