rather than Patrick Doyle’s so evocative are they ofthe lurching, rhythmic progress of thought. Towards the end of the novel. Patn'ck runs along a dark. wet street and the words pound and jerk with his footfalls. This is language beautifully wrought.
Outside Patrick Doyle's head there isn’t a great deal to inspire. In moving his working class hero into the sphere of monthly pay cheques. Kelman confronts new dilemmas. Symbolically cocooned in his car. Patrick is isolated from both his unemployed brother and his colleagues at the school: the one has a genuine grievance against the times and the others fail to see that their part in the nightmare is drilling the weans in unquestioning submission. Patrick Doyle is an Eighties‘ man in his slick denunciations of racism and sexism. his vulnerability and his tangibly painful isolation. His slow disintegration in a society which offers him nothing. but which he cannot leave. is a chilling indication ofthe state of the Scots. (Julie Morrice)
Out of the Line at Fire Mark Henshaw (Hamish Hamilton £1 I .95) At the university of Heidelberg. a quirky friendship is struck between the narrator and Wolfgang Schonborn. a brilliant ifexasperating fellow student. But when ‘Wolfi‘ suddenly disappears. leaving only a bundle of papers. photographs and letters. the narrator embarks on a quest to unravel the truth behind his character. From the outward normality of a wealthy middle-class background emerges a past of incestuous undercurrents. farcical escapades and destructive tendencies that hint at the tragic circumstances to come.
But this is not a work of fiction. or is it? Mark Henshaw lures the reader
down false narrative paths. only to remind us that it is a novel supposedly based on fact and not a ‘murder mystery in need ofsolution‘. Our perception of the enigmatic Wolﬁ is in turn embellished. challenged and then systematically destroyed. Henshaw continually dismantles our illusions of reality within the novel. making us aware of the subjectivity between what is real and what is fiction.
The subtle nuances in the storyline and the diversity of language (including extensive passages in German) make ‘Out of the Line of Fire’ both a stimulating and an enjoyable read. (Ann Vinnicombe)
Renuka Stephen Alter (Andre Deutsch £10.95) One difference between a good author and a bad author is that the good one tells you what his characters eat. This recent off-the-cuff remark by Allan Massie suggests that Stephen Alter‘s fourth novel should be his chef-d’ouevre: each of its ﬁfteen short chapters
. N .." .-"’_¢A.' — ,.‘ ’ l'
“Worm, 3% . . begins with a recipe.
Rachel Manton is a nice. ordinary
American housewife who happens to live in India. Her husband runs a psychiatric hospital down on the hot. breathless plains. while Rachel and their two sons live in the bitchy. predominantly female environment ofa small hill town. Most of Rachel‘s neighbours are do-gooding wives of missionaries who have transported their mundane way of life and preconceptions (and recipes) intact from small-town America. Rachel‘s one escape from this oppressive regime is her friendship with Renuka. a confident. poetry-writing woman. with a mysterious past and a dcvil-may-care attitude to the American community.
Alter toys with this carefully assembled situation, not certain what to make ofit. Moments of humour emerge as if unintentionally from Rachel's observation of this everlasting Tupperware party. but the author finally decides to concentrate on the central relationship between Renuka and Rachel. leaving the background sketchy and unsatisfying. It is light and enjoyable. with a fair measure of tension and insight. but it left me hoping for something more substantial. (Julie Morrice)
SCIENCE FICTION REVIEWS
I Desolation Boad Ian McDonald (Bantam Spectra £3.95) Set on a future Mars which is in the process of being terra-formed. this novel tells the story ofan unauthorised community — Desolation Road — which is founded by chance but becomes a microcosm of all human endeavour during its brief history for. as the community evolves. so it mirrors the path of man‘s social evolution. An impressive first novel. I Ambient Jack Womack (Unwin Hyman £2.95) Next century. everybody‘s worst dreams of New York have come true. A fast-paced blend of Clockwork Orange-style argot and cyberpunk.
I Inherit the Stars James P. Hogan (Grafton £2.99); Endgame Enigma James P. Hogan (Arrow). Grafton reprint Hogan‘s first book (part one ofthe Giants trilogy). which is ‘great
From ‘Blding the Skies: Classic Posters from the Golden Age of Flying’ published by Bloomsbury at £16.95.
sense of wonder‘ SF with ideas coming thick and fast. Endgame Enigma is his latest book and. although his style has improved. is essentially a near-future thriller with overt anti-Soviet propaganda.
I The Cold Moons Aeron Clement (Penguin £3.99) The obvious comparison is Watership Down; this books features badgers and their fight against illegal baiting and gassing. It has a harder edge than Adams‘ book but good animal fantasies still have a happy ending.
(Mike Calder) JUST PUBLISHED
I The Bontire ot Vanities Tom Wolfe (Picador £4.99) The heart of the Big Apple exposed. bad pips and all. A hot. comically accentuated insight into the wildest of city jungles. I The Kid from Riga Michael Molloy (Futura £2.99) Indoctrination and substitution behind the Iron Curtain; an actress turned agent; a mole tunnelling in the highest places; and the usual peppering of frissons. double bluffs and unerring left-handed assassins. I The Swell Season Josef Skvorecky (Picador £3.99) Despite the shadow of German occupation, incurable Czech skirt-chaser Danny rebounds from one amorous rebuff to the next; delightfully caught adolescent humour in an excellent translation. I Vail Trevor Hoyle (Abacus £3.99) A distinctly unsettling and funny -
'acomplex. demanding family. So
though you wish it weren‘t — vision of a police state Britain. Amid corruption and obscenity. Vail carves a meteoric path. The writing is on the wall. and more.
I An Irrelevant Woman Mary Hocking (Abacus £3.99) Thoughtful. perceptive story of a middle-class mother's mid-life crisis. Hitherto her sanity has held together
how will the brood adjust?
I Woman in the Mists Farley Mowat (Futura £4.99) Close-up biography of Dian Fossey who devoted nineteen years to protecting gorillas. and was murdered for it. Much of the story told in her own wry words.
I The Case of Thomas N John David Morley (Abacus £3.99) Already suffering total amnesia. the unfortunate Thomas wakes up to discover a severed head on the bedroom chair. Ending up in the dock. he‘s as keen as the jury to know if he committed the deed.
I Blue Skies & Jack and Jill Helen Hodgman (Virago £4.50) Astringent. disturbing stories from Tasmania. where all sorts of nasty things writhe beneath a seemingly placid surface.
I Agents of Innocence David Ignatius (W.H. Allen £3.50) Beirut 1969 — unrest is fermenting. but nothing compared with what‘s to come. Well-researched. lucid thriller. with a likeable hero. which makes a change.
Booksellers since 1797 —
Thursday 16 March ALASDAIR GRAY
will be reading from his new volume of poetry . OLD NE GA TI VE S
7 for 7.30pm Wine will be served
50 Gordon Street, Glasgow 7231911190119.- Glasgow 22] 0262
9am—8pm Monday—Frida y 9am—5.30pm Saturday 12n00n—5pm Sundays; with live music 1—2pm
The List 10— 23 March 1989 59