FICTION DEAD-END HOLIDAYS
What We Did On Our Holidays Geoff Nicholson (Hodder & Stoughton
£1 1 .95) Amidst our office-bound. dreary, bureaucratic lives. the holiday has taken on a mythic quality. From our schooldays. as the title swuggests. we are encouraged to record our experiences. From the stumbling essay of the eight year-old child to the beach snap-shot. the holiday is an area into which we pour attempts at family reconciliation. dreams ofescape. and fantasies of leisure and eroticism.
In Geoff Nicholson‘s book. Eric seeks the answers to his dreary life as a bought-ledger clerk in a family holiday with his wife and adolescent children. During two weeks at a Skegness caravan park, Eric‘s diary charts his naive attempts at understanding as the world around him collapses into chaos. He is plunged into the madness ofsexual debauchery. gruesome murder. freak weather conditions and industrial unrest.
However, what should be brutal satire or hilarious farce never seems to reach fruition in this novel. Nicholson employs the techniques of comedy, surrealism. and the grotesque, with such clumsiness that every subject he touches turns to stone. When Eric attempts to resolve the contradictions around him in an orgy ofviolence. I was neither sickened nor amused. The great potential ofthe subject is lost in the author‘s dead prose. (Moira Jeffrey)
GREEN GRASS OF HOME
The Shamrock Boy Stuart White (The Bodley Head, @1195). Dermot McGarvey, formerly a revered
PIRA hitman has failed to accomplish the mission with which he alone was entrusted. And now he is on the run — from the authorities and the embittered British Intelligence officer with an obsessional. intrinsic score to settle; from the Cause. who regard him as a liability, and from his family who are ignorant of his darkest crime. His only soulmate is a naive American of Irish descent. reared on tales of a glorious Ireland and its proud freedom fighters. now striving to experience the myths of her cthhood.
Within this conventional plot lies an immaculately constructed and well-paced novel. Precise insights into the psyche ofeach character. unbearable tension and shocking, but ungratuitous. violence accompanied by action which proffers a guessing game up to the emotive, chilling finale.
More impressively however, White has strived and largely succeeded to achieve the impossible by presenting a relatively balanced view of the ‘Irish Situation‘. The Shamrock Boy presents a sympathetic case for each party, while integrating a digestible, comprehensive history of the country by way ofcharacter reflection. For this alone, the novel deserves praise.
White would appear to have no first-hand experience of Ireland but is obviously knowledgeable and perceptive. creating a strongly recommended work. (Susan Mackenzie)
ESSAYS WORDS ON THE WING
Practicalities Marguerite Duras (Collins £10.95) For Marguerite Duras life is an intense, luminous D
Wharton (Virago Modern
unremittineg bleak tales of bleak. lonely lives. illuminated by sexual fumblings. the pubor
I Farewell Miss Julie LoganJM. Barrie
sandwich-eating Mole creator.
I America Observed Alistair Cooke (Penguin £4.99) This selection of Cooke‘s colourful, solid US dispatches to the
ARMISTEAD MAU PIN
Will be reading from the sixth and ﬁnal novel in his 'Tales of the City’ sequence
"Su re of You" (Chatto & Vdeus £ 12. 95)
on Wednesday 7 February 1990 6.00 - 7.00 p.m.
Free tickets available from Volumes Bookstore
’Deliberately Funng’ (Harpers & Queen)
( rune Ou ’The funniest series of novels currently in
progress’ (The Ti mes)
63-65 Queen Street, Glasgow tel: 041-226-5762
Classics £5.99) Masks. images and the twee nuances of social intercourse are hit hard by Wharton‘s entertaining and sad tale of Miss Lin Bart. her beautiful. unmarried and superficially air-headed heroine.
I The Walled Garden Philip Glazebrook (Flamingo £3.99) An eccentric monied family produces an eccentric unmonied heir, doomed to a futile existence. A fine. strange novel.
I Just Relations Rodney Hall (Faber £5.99) Challenging. prize-winning tale ofa down-and-out Australian town. its inhabitants and incomers.
I Walking Wounded William McIlvanney (Sceptre £3.99) Almost
i I The house at Mirth Edith l | l l l
(Scottish Academic Press ;
£4.95) This late . ghostly novella is sprinkled with Scots words and the cosy divulgences ofthe young Rev. Adam Yestreen. and has the added advantage of being a metaphor for Scotland.
Nun Fiction I The Lite and Times of St Andrews Raymond
Lamont-Brown (John Donald £7.50) History.
God. education and sport j
surface in a dry account of the ancient burgh. with a bizarre Muirish introduction by Frank Muir.
I Mr Bevan's Dream Sue Townsend (Chatto (‘ounterbiasts £2.99) An eloquent. impassioned argument in defence of the Welfare State from Golden Syrup
Guardian includes poised pieces on Christmas. papers. billy Uraham and Gary Cooper.
I Sword and Pen: Poems oi 1915trom Dundee and Tayside Ed. Spear and Pandrich (Aberdeen UP £6.95) Poems from local papers by those left behind and those at the Front make for poignant. low-key reading.
I Chekhov V.S. Pritchett (Penguin £4.99) The imminently 90-year old writer tackles Chekhov from the point of view of his oft-neglected short stories.
I The History ot Greek Philosophy Vol I Luciano de C rescenzo (Picador £4.99) Pre-Socratic penseurs get an idiosyncratic once-over with scratchy Steadman illustrations.
MARIAN N E WIGGIN S
will be reading from and signing copies of her exciting new novel
at Waterstones on Monday 5th February at 7.30pm
Wine will be served
132 UNION STREET, GLASGOW Tel: 041 221 0890
The List 26 January — 8 February 1990 69