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romantic links. previous stances need to be reconsidered. Reading like an episode from a favourite soap. the pace is furious but the characters bend with the plot into artificial moulds and never achieve any real substance. (Ann Vinnicombe)
SHORT STORIES george ‘lllackay Bro
e . ie man and other stor’
The Masked Fisherman and Other Stories George Mackay Brown (John Murray £12.95) Winter is the unifying theme ofthese stories. when in the northern isles the sun ﬂickers for a few. faltering hours like a torch with flat batteries. The seasons. says GMB in the introduction. must always have influenced storytellers and poets. and in the dark days. and in the still darker nights. the yarn spinner only had to cast a line to catch his listeners. It is easy to imagine the long. tall and short ones included in this collection being read aloud. The reader is signposted with exclamation marks. dynamic verbs and bold. briefscntences that keep the pace cracking along. though the events they describe are usually more domestic than epic. Some. no more than anecdotes. would suffice over morning coffee in a Stromncss cafe; others — as portentous as those in the Orkneyinga Saga - need a wild night. smouldering peats and shifting shadows. At times Mackay Brown lives dangerously. for winter brings Christmas and with it comes sentimentality in pudding dollops. but at his best — ‘The Eve of St Thomas'. ‘The White Horse Inn‘. "The Twentieth of August‘. and the title story — he is reminiscent of another triple-named master of the form: Isaac Bashevis Singer. a winnerofthe Nobel Prize. ifmemory serves me right. ((‘live Yellowjohn)
I Happy Endings David Cook (Arena £3.99) From a confused 10 year-old with dirty ears who sticks Ludo counters into little Angela‘s ‘molehill‘. Morris develops into an art teacher with - not all that surprisingly — a penchant for the very
young and nubile. Sharply observed. with a happy ending ofsorts — considering the alternatives.
I Sanctuary William Faulkner (Picador £4.99) Faulkner's most controversial novel. the stuff of nightmares and Channel Four movies: bootlegging. rape. lynching and mental retardation in the muggy wilds of 1930s' Mississippi.
I My Friend Matt and Henna the Whore Adam Zameenzad (Fontana £3.95)Starved out of their African village. Kimo (9) and three resourceful friends set off to the big city. Their journey across a country ravaged by civil war makes harrowing reading. all the more poignant for the author's unquenchable humour.
I Remedy ls None William McIlvanney (Richard Drew £3.95) Brought up short in his university career by his father‘s death. Charlie Grant is swamped not only by grief. but by violent rage against his mother and the man for whom she abandoned her husband. Early McIlvanney. but vintage.
I Bad Girls, Good Women Rosie Thomas (Penguin £4.99) From reckless Soho days to more meaningful relationships. Mattie and Julia create the sort of personal havoc one can only find in the glossiest American soaps.
I The Laird of Abbotslord A.N. Wilson (OUP £4.95) Though in Wilson‘s view Sir Walter Scott has mercifully escaped the A-level syllabus and campus bookstore. he deserves greater contemporary recognition. An admiring biography. incisive as you’d expect. I The Shell Seekers Rosamunde Pilcher (Coronet £3.99) Characterful. determined and unusual. Penelope Keeling forms the heart ofthis family saga. which stretches from World War I to the '805. A good. fat yarn.
I While Home Burns Alexander Woollcott (Simon & Schuster £8.95) From ghost stories told as true. to reﬂections on being a fat man in Russia. a reprint ofa full-scented - some would say overblown — bouquet of pieces from this legendary literary huckster.
I The Cocaine Wars Paul Eddy and Sara Walden (Arrow £3.99) Disturbing, vivid. appalling account ofthe US cocaine trade: its far-reaching ramifications. and its implications for the rest of the world. I Marina Tsvetayeva Elaine Feinstein (Penguin £4.50) Quiet, revealing biography ofone of the greatest voices in 20th century literature, who believed that ‘God must indeed want to make me a major poet. otherwise he would not deprive me ofeverything.‘ (Rosemary Goring)
I Alan Hollinghurst. author of the celebrated novel The Swimming Pool Library. will read at West and Wilde Bookshop (25a Dundas Street) onTues l 1 July at 8pm.
62 The List 30 June — 13 July 1989