Mark Fisher, Theatre Editor, picks out a low of the books he'd like to have stretching his Christmas stocking this year.
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I Protlles Kenneth 'I‘ynan (Nick Hern Books £14.95) Unlike the most recently published collection of Tynan's work which brought together his theatre reviews. this large volume will appeal not only to to the theatrephile. but also to anyone with an interest in 20th-century entertainment. Varying in length from four paragraphs on Orson Welles to fifty pages on Tom Stoppard. these 50-plus character sketches cover everyone from Eric Moreambe. Marlene Dietrich and Miles Davis to more expected figures like Peter Brook. Alec Guinness and Joan Littlewood. Flick through the opening sentences ofeach profile and it is impossible not to be drawn in. His prose is invariably fresh. lively. informed. precise and passionate. And of course Tynan always elicits the perfect quotation from his subjects such as Graham Greene in 1953: ‘Leaving the miraculous out of life is rather like leaving out the lavatory or dreams or breakfast'. That's miraculous enough for me.
I A Dream ol Passion Lee Strasberg (Methuen £6.99) Published for the first time in paperback earlier this year. this is the American director‘s explanation of the Method school of naturalistic acting. Aimed at a general theatre audience. though no doubt ofparticular interest to actors and directors. Strasberg's book describes his development of the ideas ofStanislavsky into a technique that has directly influenced decades of actors from Marlon Brando to Dennis Hopper. It is clearly written. full of practical anecdotes and a valuable insight into the problems of an actor.
I A Thousand Capricious Chances Maureen Duffy (Methuen £15) Through a history of a publisher. we see a history ofpublishing. and in a history of Methuen, we see a history ofthe company that has developed into Britain‘s foremost publisher of playscripts. As Maureen Duffy‘s liberally illustrated survey of Methuen‘s first century shows. this was a development that took place
largely in the two decades from 1960.
But before we get to Orton, Bond and Pinter in the book‘s last chapter, we‘ll have taken in Wilde, Pirandello and Delaney en route. And for the general reader— at whom this book is really aimed - there is everyone from DH. Lawrence to Winnie the Pooh. A lively and eclectic read.
I The Best Way to Walk Andrew Yule (Mainstream £9.95) The appeal of Chic Murray is attested to by the list ofcomic greats who turn out to praise him on the dust jacket ofthis detailed biography. Billy Connolly, Spike Milligan, Stanley Baxter and Robbie Coltrane all happily rave about the Greenock comic whose inﬂuence lives on four years after his death. Full ofjokes and anecodotes - although Yule is inclined to speculate on probable conversations for the sake ofgetting in a quote — this is the lovingly put together story of a great comedian.
I Les Miserables Edward Behr (Jonathan Cape £14.95) In the first three years of its English-language run. the highly praised musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo has been seen by over a million people. If you are one ofthem. then this book will act both as a richly-produced souvenir and as a thoroughly-researched source of background information. As well as full-colour production shots and a copy ofthe libretto. the book includes a history of Les Miserables from the time of Hugo to the present day and lots ofbehind-the-scenes production details. Ifyou haven‘t seen the show. the book will be of limited interest. unless you‘re prepared to wait until Alan Parker‘s film version comes out in 1992.
Anne Vinnicombe linds the latest mixed bag a mixed bag.
I Antaeus: on nature Ed. Daniel Halpern (Collins Harvill £7.95) ‘We shall never fully understand nature,‘ says John Fowles in this dense and weighty tome of essays on the grand subject of nature. Thirty writers from Europe and North America wax (not so lyrical) on mankind‘s relationship with nature. From Italo Calvino on Pliny‘s (who he?) Natural History to Keith Basso on the Western Apaches, this nature collection is outstanding in its tedium.
I Travellers In a Bygone Shetland: an anthology Derek Flinn (Scottish Academic Press £17.50) Relates the accounts ofpast travellers to the Shetland Isles from 1550 to 1850. The book recounts first-hand experience ofitinerant preachers, Quaker women, Freemasons, shipwrecked Spaniards, to the likes of Walter Scott and Arthur Conan Doyle. There are some hidden gems lurking amongst the impenetrable text: such as a Shetland family eating from their communal trough and a graphic portrait of a nose-picking youth. The only insight Derek Flinn deigns to proffer on the ‘natives’ is
BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS
this: ‘The women, Sir, are the best men in Shetland.’ Just the ticket for any imperialist’s Grand Tour of the Sheﬂands
I Sex and the City Ed. Marsha Rowe (Serpent‘s Tail £5.95) An intriguing collection of short stories uncompromisingly linked to the nitty-gritty ofsexual relationships and modern city life. The stories range from hi-tech computer sex and dogs, to inter-racial, gay and straight relationships. A mixture of 19805’ eroticism, sexual humiliation and an underlying wistful longing for the milk of human kindness, seemingly destroyed by urban living. Compulsive stuff.
I And we sold the rain . . .Ed. Rosario Santos (Ryan Publishing £5.99) Bolivian writer Rosario Santos is the editor of this collection of contemporary fiction (recently translated into English) from Central America. The stories bear witness to a decade of repression in the shape of America bolstering puppet dictators throughout Central America. The images in the stories range from a turncoat dog who has defected to the Americans, to a four year-old child playing amongst rotting corpses. Amongst the twenty writers (all from Central America), is Nicaragua‘s own Vice-President, Sergio Ramirez. A real testimony to war and struggle.
I The War Decade Compiled by Andrew Sinclair (Hamish Hamilton £20) A gripping anthology of wartime and post-war literary memorabilia from the outbreak of war in 1939 to the Festival of Britain in 1951. Re-creates the fears and shock felt by a nation at war from the great literary figures (such as Graham Greene) to the little-known writers ofthe time, through poetry. diaries, speeches and extracts from novels. A monumental work and a reminder ofthe human side to the true horrors ofwar.
I Wales: An Anthology Selected by Alice Thomas Ellis (Collins Publishers £14.95) Alice Thomas Ellis‘ selection of writing on and about Wales is a pot-pourri of language, history, industry, food and drink, landscape, folklore, customs and religious traditions. Illustrated throughout by the pen and ink drawings of Kyffin Williams, it is a high quality representation of Welsh literature. You will also find a recipe on how to pickle your puffin!
Food edltor Jo Roe takes stock at this year’s cookery books and serves up the best at an aooetislng bunch.
I Cooking Wllh Herbs Emelie Tolley. Chris Mead (Sidgwick & Jackson £20) A wonderfully colourful collection of mouth-watering recipes accompanied by historical footnotes. Concentrating on America (divided into several regions), Italy, Spain, Morocco, France and England, the sections include profiles on chefs and restaurants. Each individualised
recipe illustrates a prevailing interest in fresh herbs. spices and garnishes. ranging from lemon balm chicken. to nastursiums stuffed with crab meat, ' to strawberry sorbet with edible frosted rose.
I Far Eastern Cookery Madhur Jaffrey (BBC Publications £7.95) Having made Indian Cookery accessible to thousands. Jaffrey‘s most recent TV series. accompanied by this book. unveils the culinary delights ofThailand. Japan. Korea, Hong Kong. The Philippines. Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. The book covers over 150 favourite recipes from starters through to desserts. with sections on techniques and equipment. Iiach country is given an evocativeintroduction sprinkled with colourful photographs. though the book‘s great strengh lies in .lal'frey‘s culinary experdse.
I Food For All Seasons Introduced by Neil Macl.ean (Moubray l louse Publishing £12.95) Working on the assumption that Scotland has one of the finest natural larders, this is a collection of ideas and musings from four food experts working in Scotland. Divided into seasons. the book pays special attention to natural resources such as salmon. fungi and oysters. providing personal advice from the writers and various knowledgeable chefs. as wel as reci es
I The Food Oi Italy Claudia Roden (Chatto & Windus £16.95) Italy is enjoying a renewed interest in traditional cooking which. until the War. had remained the same for hundreds ofyears. Now young chefs are turning to their grandmothers in search of the real thing. Every other fortnight. for six months. Roden travelled extensively throughout Italy learning how to prepare the food, gathering recipes and gaining an intimate knowledge ofthe Italian way oflife. This extremely well researched and lovingly put together collection of recipes is divided into regional sections introduced by a history ofeach area and peppered with photographs which reﬂect the simple. authentic cuisine. Each recipe is clear and concise. embellished only with personal observations and cooking hints.
I Real Drlnker’s Almanac Roger
Protz (Lochar £5.95). In a dark musty corner of some ancient
The List 24 November — 7 December 1989 83