M Y 1/” 7:31.24 "‘
a, 5‘ Ni“?
UPIN THE AIR
My Father’s Moon Elizabeth Jolley (Vikingfl 1 .95) The moon that sinks and rises in the mind of Vera Wright is at once a comfort to her in her loneliness and a reminder of her isolation. It is also a curious token of her romanticism. The bare bones of her life. told in wandering. unordered episodes. read like the stock Second World War love story: Vera becomes a nurse after a spell at
a girls' boarding school. she meets a married doctor. has an affair and then gets pregnant.
Iler present day life. as she dips a toe in the routine ofan impoverished community. is bleak. Fantasies from the past. hinged on a nurse from the hospital. Ramsden. offer little relief. but keep the flame ofhope burning.
Lesbian relationships. lingering crushes and a sort ofwondering sexuality breathe heavily in the novel. fanning a tale ofsultry. largely unfulfilled desires. These passions stand in stark contrast to the grim and petty realities which dog Vera — her snide cruelty towards her school and nursing friends. and her acute. restlessjealousy.
My Father's Moon is a pervasive book which filters into your mind and is hard to shake off. It has the decided air of an early book. drawn from Elizabeth Jolley's unpublished stock. but it is nonetheless a fine one. (Kristina Woolnough)
FIRST NOVELS SUCKING OBSESSION
The Whirlpool Jane Urquhart (Simon & Schuster £1 1 .95) ()nly a short ride from civilization lie the Niagara Falls. Hidden in the deeps of a lovely wood and attracting all sorts to itself. from lyric poets to suicides. it forms the menacing hub of this unusual first novel. drawing together the lives ofan intriguing group of
EDINBURGH BOOK FESTIVAL
12-28 August 1989 Charlotte Square Gardens
DIARY OF EVENTS
Over 200 Authors in 17 days. All-day cabaret in the famous Beck's Spiegeltent, two theatres, the Post Ofﬁce Children's Fair & thousands
\’ of books. All this and fresh air too! vv 30C ,>
BOX OFFICE OPEN NOW .11.
Edinburgh Bookshop, 57 George Street 10am-6pm Mon-Fri; 10am-S.30pm Sat or book by phone with
Access or Visa on 031 220 4067
For more information or a programme please write to Box R, Edinburgh Book Festival, 25a S.W. Thistle Street Lane, Edinburgh EH2 1EW enclosing two letter stamps, or call 031 225 1915
lvvv‘vx-X J /\..\‘
Catching Victorian Canada with humour and perception. Urquhart brings us Maud. the undertaker‘s widow. and her disturbing little boy; the precociously feminist Fleda, an eccentric poetry addict who lives in a tent in the above-mentioned woods while her historian husband puts up at the local hotel and plans their poolside home; and Patrick. a poet who ﬂirts with mental collapse and develops a passing adoration for Fleda.
Exploring the breathless claustrophobia of personal
obsession. The Whirlpool is a distinctive. occasionally meandering novel. whose interest lies less in the stories it tells than in the sure eye and light touch of its author.
HOT AND BOTHERED
The Sleepless Summer Ferdinand Dennis ( Hodder & Stoughton
£1 1 .95) The stiﬂing heat ofthe summer of 1976 is a suitable background for Ferdinand Dennis‘s first novel The Sleepless Summer.
Colin Morgan is young and black. Finding himself at the end of his final school term and on the verge of university. he faces the prospect of a long. hot summer alone. He keenly feels his isolation as his parents go back to Jamaica and he drifts away from his schoolfriends. Colin languishes aimlessly until he falls into a new friendship with Max and his friend Ziggy, who engage him in a plan to build the ‘Black House’, intended to be a centre of black culture. Colin‘s previous naivety is swept away when he is confronted by new beliefs and broader perspectives. Tragically, he is both witness to and unwitting catalyst in the eventual downfall ofthe Black House and. with it. all his fragile hopes for the future.
The Sleepless Summer is a hard-hitting insight into what it means to be black in Britain — Colin‘s view is bleak: ‘it is to be homeless, to have no identity outside one’s colour.‘ But is is also a sensitive portrayal of a young man’s search to find his own personality. (Ann Vinnicombe)
POETRY TURNING THE TIDE
Fresh Oceans (Stramullion £3.95) This is an anthology of contemporary poetry written by Scottish women. the second to be published by Stramullion. Any project that brings Scottish verse before the public is welcome, but one must confess to a personal prejudice against single-sex productions of this sort. Is their ultimate effect not limiting rather than liberating? In her Introduction, Tessa Ransford acknowledges the danger. but emphasises how. in the past. women's poetry was largely discounted and now requires this kind of positive discrimination. Perhaps she is right. Certainly, there
\ .‘ ‘3?"
‘~ ~. . ‘ jﬁifaaﬁ:
and delight the reader.
Thirty-nine poets are featured. some well known and others unfamiliar — altogether too many to quote from. although much is quotable. Although predominately in English. there are a few poems in Scots and Gaelic. Predictably (ifone dare say so. and it is not an adverse criticism). there is a preoccupation with domestic matters. And there is a remarkable fondness for anorexic forms. ie short lines ofverse stretched thin on the page. But by no means are these poems. and indeed most others in the books. short of muscle and blood. They deal largely with fundamental and universal themes and impress with their fresh insights and lively imagery. (Ken Morrice)
The Mirror Wall Richard Murphy (Bloodaxe Books £10.95 [cloth], £4.95 [paper]) In the remote jungle of Sri Lanka rises the Lion Rock. and on it a curving wall of polished plaster about a hundred metres long displays frescoes ofgolden girls. bejewelled and big-breasted. They are said to survive from the 5th century — nymphs. dancing girls. or perhaps some of the king‘s many wives— and for long. travellers have made their way to admire and to write songs and comments on the so~called mirror wall. These Sigiri Graffiti were collected and published and now give inspiration for this volume of poetry.
The book is attractively produced and contains verses which are both charming and impressive. But others come over as somewhat banal. What. for example. is one to make of: ‘Thinking endless thoughts/ about someone you madly desire/ can become not very becoming“? So. despite the pleasantly erotic images conjured up by the lyrics and the reproductions ofsome of the murals. one can‘t help wondering if all the effort put into this production is worthwhile. Perhaps confronted by the poor and strife-torn country that is now Sri Lanka. we need reminding ofhappier times. (Ken Morrice)
ESSAYS WRITING ALL WRONG
Delighting the Heart: A Notebook by Women Writers Ed. Susan Sellers (Women's Press £6.95)
Delighling (he Hear! is a collection of women writers (such as Alice Walker. Amryl Johnson. Emma Tennant. amongst the more illustrious). discussing the art of creative writing. The selections aim to present the process ofwriting from the initial idea right through to the finished work. The book is divided into five sections dealing with how women fit in their writing activities with other commitments; strategies for crafting work and. finally, examines ‘Women and
50 The List 28 July — II) August 1989