with herselfor reached her full potential as an artist. A classic example of the 'l’ragic flaw in full swing.

.\Is Dillon obviously fancies herself

as a bit of a psychologist and doesn't do a bad iob ofinterpreting the wiles ofle Bovvles but licr'obv'ious infatuation with her subject sometimes lends an apologetic tone to the darker truths. 'l‘o read of Bowles' endless unresolved struggle to write and to free herself from the phobias and fears which paralysed her is frustrating and inevitably repetitious. But her biography gives a tantalizing insight into those decadent times and is a fascinating exploration of the ‘artistic temperament‘. (Jacqueline lidgar)


I Sea of Glass Barry B. Longyear (Legend £3.50). The hero of this novel is young 'l‘ommy Windom. brought up in total secrecy by his parents who have broken the strict (‘ompact population regulations. 'l‘ommy’s story from the age ofseven

is told entirely from his point of view. with language. insights and emotions evolving and maturing as he grows up in a work-camp for unauthorised children alter being discovered by the authorities. Because of his closeted early upbringing many of his memories are ofold films.—and situations are frequently compared to scenes in films like 'I'IIX lln’h’. xI/mt'u/vpst' .va, li/ ( it! and Blur/crawler. As he matures. he discovers the background to the apparent police-state in which he is living (early 2 I st century) and becomes aware of social planning and manipulation that smacks of Asirnov's I’vvt'lio/irslmjv. The later chapters rely at times on familiar situations and are less effective than the early ones but this is still a powerful and at times moving novel. I Ship of Strangers Bob Shaw ((iollanc/ £2.09). This is another in the series of SI’ re—issues. originally published in l978. The hero is Dave Surgenor. a member of a survey team who compile detailed maps of newly-discovered. uninhabited

planets. It is essentially a collection of adventures involving problems not noted by the original discoverers. The team is controlled by a computer and it is difficult to see why a human crew is required. 'I‘he author also seems to realise this and explains it away unconvincineg. but without them there would be no story. In the main plot the hero finally realises that there is more to life than exploring faraway planetszl suspect Shaw feels the same way. Well written and enjoyable once you accept the initial premise.

I Into the DUI OI Alan Dean Foster (Nlil. £10.95). Foster again searches out little-known folklore and legends. (.\laori last time. this time the Maasai of East Africa) and spins a relatively lightweight yarn involving evil beings. an off—duty FBI agent. a pretty girl. .‘vlaasai magic and the end of the world. 'l'lie prose is periodically lax but this is generally an undemanding read with some interesting insights into Iiast African life today.

I Wizardry and Wild Romance


William Mcllvanney is only interviewed, as he writes, entirely on his own terms. Formula questions are brusquely brushed aside as unhelpful attempts to confine and define himself and his work. He wants to talk about important things, things which motivate his writing —the sense of self, the translation of experience into expression and the openendedness of both.

His new volume of poetry is equally up-front and shows the same political commitment to discrediting superficialify and image. ‘It’s the poetry I have made out of experience, perception and attempt at understanding. It‘s one attempt. There are others. Oursocietyjust now is exactly about telling lies about what‘s real and is exactly about encouraging people to believe that what is happening to them is not happening. The image is all and the reality is more and more subsumed in a phoney image. People have the right to understand their own experience and I think that's partly what poetry is about. It‘s partly an attempt by the example of the poet to encourage other people to discover what they believe is the reality of their experience.‘

There are hard-edged poems about winos, disco dancers, tattooed men, miserable marriages, pub scenes, crowd scenes all hallmarked with the stamp of a harsh reality. They're largely spit-and-sawdust poems, with occasional transgressions into abstracts. I asked Mcllvanney how he reconciles his street-level concerns with the elitist status of poetry. He basically doesn't feel he has to. ‘One of the things that’s always troubled me about poetry is that many poets seem



content to talkto a clique, to communicate with an in-group. Poetry seems to me too valuable to be monopolised in that way. I write poetry because I believe in it. It seems arguably the most heightened form of communication there is.

’l've done journalism, television, novels and short stories too. It’s perfectly valid to do poetry as well. I would hope my poetry is readable. A lot of modern poetry seems to me to be about aesthetics. It’s about how clever you can be, developing techniques. To me technique should always be in the service of something worth saying. Poetry should not simply concern itself with how technically pleasing it is— it should say something of strength.

‘Poets have to constantly take plasma from experience. And frankly, lthink a lot of writers haven’t got the guts to have experience. They'd rather sit in a room and unravel their entrails and examine them.’

With the (perhaps) false poetry versus politics paradox totally demolished, Mcllvanney went on to talk equally ferociously about the aggression which flares sporadically from many of the frustrated and angry

figures in his poems, and which Mcllvanney scrutinises closely. ‘I think aggression is very different from violence. There are countless daily acts of physical and verbal aggression. Aggression is a person drawing lines, saying "do not invade my territory“. It‘s a very healthy thing.’

In a particularly strong poem, Mcllvanney involves himself in a crowd, trying to understand the power and swelling anger of enormous numbers of people. ’It was about being in a football crowd. I‘m willing to stay close enough to try and understand it. Condemnation in the abstract is pretty meaningless. I have fear—that‘s whyl wrote the poem. The question is what you do with your fear. Do you turn it into a blanket condemnation of the phenomenon or do you try to turn it into an attempt at understanding the phenomenon?’

He acknowledges that no matter what the substance and subject matter of the poems, the volume will not sell ‘huge numbers’, and may not appeal to the readers of his novels. ‘To me, any piece of writing is an act of faith. It‘s like a constructive understanding of an experience to which you invite people. If nobody comes, nobody comes. There are two ways you could write. You could say “where is there an audience and I shall write to that audience." Or you could say “what is it I feel compelled to write? I shall write that and hope the audience turns up." I‘ve always written in the second way—l only write what I feel compelled to write. I do have fear that there won‘t be a reader, but all writing is about taking a risk.‘

William Mcllvanney's ‘In Through The Head' is published by Mainstream in hardback (£9.95), in paperback (£4.95) and on tape (£5) read by the poet himself.

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