humour with dessicated eloquence. But there's something gratuitous about the book's first-person delivery. an unsettling self-absorption. a callous coolness. As a study ofabnormality it mixes the clinical with the cynical. and it‘s done with aplomb. But it‘s a hard act to warm to. (Tom Adair)
SMOKING STRANGENESS Rubicon Beach Steve Erickson (Futura £4.50) There‘s a section of uneasy writing between the noir thriller genre. in which half-glimpsed faces relate voice-over crime. and that slice of science fiction exclusively devoted to the planet Earth's plausible self-immolation — and ‘Rubicon Beach‘ occupies it. (‘hanges of narrative (from a funereal stoolie on parole. through some luminous-eyed siren clutching Nemesis knife. to a third man whose inner ear is musical) function with conspiratorial precision inside a landscape that has successfully evacuated its capacity to dream - like the lights have been switched off. This is America Two. the promised land raped beyond redemption. all pilgrims dead. In other words. only serious freakery from within the human psyche can withstand the zomboid twitchings of that impulse which resettled hundreds ofyearning and persecuted cultures comprising America ()ne. Erickson‘s prose is sort ofinanimate but humming all
| the same. like something that runs
1 on batteries but without them. and still it runs. This is how it gets so dislocated. smoking out the strangeness everyone else tries to ignore. A mesmeric number. really. (Chris Lloyd)
FIRST NOVELS MID-LIFE CRISIS
i Love Among The Single Classes Angela Lambert (The Bodley Head £1 I .95) Angela Lambert‘s first novel is a troubling journey through the trials and agonies of life as a single woman. The scene is set in London. (‘onstance Liddell. a divorcee veering towards the terrors of middle—age. is on a desperate quest for love. She answers this ad in the personal column: ‘Polish gentleman. 50s. political refugee. seeks intellectual woman to marry‘ and meets Iwo Zaluski. a cold and enigmatic former professor of economics with a suspicious past. She immediately falls in love with him.
Constance. in her passion. takes Iwo into her life. introducing him to fatnily and friends. in the hope that he will eventually marry her. Her ambition remains unfulfilled — her passion increases as Iwo becomes more indifferent. It transpires that Iwo is still desperately homesick for his native Poland and gradually becomes obsessed with the thought
Photography, Film Media and (‘ultural Studies. ( 'rt'tt'cal Theory. Women '3‘ Studies ( ‘atalogues. J ournals. Prints and Posters
N O W O P E N Monéat Ham—5.30pm 43 Candlemaker Row. Edinburgh (03]) 220 I911
of returning to his estranged wife and family.
After a disappointing start. the novel gathers momentum and reaches an impressively shocking climax. Angela Lambert carries the torch for the lonely woman approaching middle-age. whom ‘nobody touches except by accident'. (Ann Vinnicombe)
FORGETTING THE MOLE-HILLS
Heart Mountain Gretel Ehrlich (Heinemann £1 1.95) Following the attack on Pearl Harbour. more than 100.000 Japanese-Americans and immigrants were interned throughout the US. The bleak slopes of Heart Mountain. Wyoming. were the location ofone ‘camp‘ and provide the backdrop to this poetic interpretation of a ranching community in wartime.
The diaries of Kai. an internee. punctuate third-person local accounts. and to round the novel. the latter stages include the journals of an American POW. With much conscience-wraninng. loyalties conﬂict with personal desires. McKay. unable to follow his brothers into war. falls in love with an internee. Meanwhile. Kai refuses to join up until the rights ofhis people are restored.
The landscape is crucial — the author rarely misses a metaphoric opportunity. though you often wish she wouldn‘t try so hard. ‘Rain boiled over the mountains‘ as one
example. is too deliberate to be
naturally apt. Ms Ehrlich is also fond ofpresenting the reader with ‘the bigger picture” in which sundry details. such as why McKay's parents drowned. are lost.
With an added handful of Zen thoughts. and by leaving her characters virtually unchanged by their experiences. the author endeavours to create a timeless quality. Unfortunately the impression made is somewhat lacking in depth. (Laura Wilson)
THE AGE OF ACHIEVEMENT
Available For Dreams Roy Fuller ((‘ollins I larvill £1 1 ) These 151 pages contain poems which are all fourteen lines in length. sotne in couplets. some in quatrains. and others in classical sonnet form. The poet. now in his seventies. has written a sort ofcelebration ofold age and what comes with it. Anyone open to intimations of mortality must recognise the force of his preoccupations.
The verse is set firmly in the everyday domestic scene and deals frankly with personal concerns — his garden and its birds. old friends. his aches and pains. the consolation of whisky and sleeping pills. his wife‘s illness. and his own death.
‘Free verse reduced the cunning of the muse' Fuller writes. And so. as you would expect. the poems are skilfully crafted. In one poem he asks ironically. ‘I low did an old man's daily doings seem/ Even remotely apt for poetry'." He need not worry. His ‘daily doings‘ are transmuted into affecting and compelling poetry. While notes ofself-pity creep into the verse. and there is an inevitable sadness. there is also courage and delight voiced in some outstanding poems. A real achievement for this long-distance rhymer. (Ken Morrice)
I Kazuo lshiguro will read from his new novel ‘Remains ()fThe Day' at Waterstone's bookshop ( l 14 George Street ()31 225 3436) on Thursday 25 May at 7.30pm.
I Neil Wilson writer on whisky. is lecturing on the subject and hosting a whisky-tasting at Sherratt and Ilughes bookshop (Princes Street ()31 556 3034/5) on 'I‘hursday 18 May at 7pm.
I Willie Whitelaw will be signing copies of his Whitelaw Memoirs between 1pm and 2pm at Sherratt and Ilughes (as above) on Monday 22 May.
I Waterstone’s are holding a literary dinner with champagne reception. on Monday 22 May at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £25 from Waterstone’s (as above). Guest speakers are Viscount Whitelaw and Jean Rook. of Fleet Street fame. The dinner is to be held at the Carlton Highland
Hotel. North Bridge.
I West a. Wilde Bookshop 25a Dundas Street. 556 0079.
Tue 23 May, 8pm: David Leavitt reads from his new novel Equal Affections. Wed 31 May, 8pm: Fiona (‘ooper reading and signing Rotary Spokes and Heartbreak on the H i gh Sierra.
I The Poppy Factory William Fairchild (Futura £3.99) Mud-slimed. atmospheric account of the Great War's trenches. written in a fit of remorse by a stiff-lipped general for his pacifistic grandson. I Uncivil Seasons Michael Malone (Abacus £3.99) (‘handleresque thriller. whose delightfully alcoholic detective prises the lid off a predictably nasty middle-class town of worms.
I How to Put the Love Back into Making Love Dagmar O‘Connor ((‘olumbus £5.95) Not difficult. according to this. Advice for everyone (but no pictures).
I Tunes of Glory James Kennaway ((‘anongate £3.50) The cliched classic of a personality clash between two officers. the one an ()xford don. the other a tough Highland teuchter. Well-crafted. but no surprises.
I Davy Chadwick James Buchan (Sceptre £3.50) From an eccentric Italian villa a young boy is kidnapped; in the interleaved voices of the main protagonists a shadowy web ofmistrust. resentment and passion unfolds.
I Working Mothers (‘arol Dix (Unwin £4.99) Positive. supportive discussion: a reassessment of women‘s place in the working environment; and the conclusion that the compromises and struggles involved make fora more satisfying life.
I The People's Republic of China Witold Rodzinski (Fontana £5.95) From the fateful day in 1949 when (‘hina moved into the 20th century. through the disastrous (‘ultural Revolution to an appraisal of (‘hina today — a clear. authoritative account.
I Mad Descending Guy Vanderhaeghe (Sceptre £3.50) Ilot from the anvil. a superb collection of (‘anadian short stories. Drop everything else.
I The House of God Samuel Shem (Black Swan £4.99) A Catch-22 insight into American hospital life. where one doctor‘s acute motto is: Life is like a penis: when it‘s soft you can‘t beat it; when it‘s hard you get screwed. Read on.
I Underthe Mountain Wall Peter Matthieson ((‘ollins/Harvill) Two seasons in the life of a Stone Age tribe in New Guinea. witnessed in the Sixties by this superlative travel raconteur.
65 The List 19 May— 1 June 1989