with typically Aryan looks. It is obvious that it has been made to look as ifthe murderer is Jewish (at a time when German propaganda accused the race of all kinds of bizarre and occult practices), but Bernie is determined not to be led astray by bribes and threats. He becomes romantically involved during the course ofevents, but his description of people remains as cynical and darkly amusing as ever.
The outcome is perhaps predictable. but the writing is so enjoyable that you rush to the end anyway. A word ofwarning: parts of this book should only be read by the strong of stomach — Kerr does tend to dwell a bit on the gruesome details. (Ruth Thomas)
Ann Vinnicombe rounds up the latest ragbag. I Two Women 01 London Emma Tennant (Faber and Faber £3.50) A- feminist update of the horror classic — as Ms Jeckyll and Mrs Hyde battle it out with their alter-egos. I The Cloning of Joanna May Fay Weldon (Fontana £3.50) Unsuspecting Joanna May has had the misfortune of being cloned on the sly by her. particularly nasty, ex-husband. A cautionary tale. I The Women‘s House Joan Lingard (Pan £3.99) Three women fight to save their house from the developers‘ bulldozers. Home values versus materialism. I Slightly Like Strangers Emily Listfield (Bantam £3.99) Kitchen-sink love American-style, as live-in lovers. Amanda and Sam. get stuck into their domestic ‘bliss‘. A claustrophic and sticky-sweet love story. I We Find Ourselves in Moontown Jay Gummerman (Black Swan £4.99) The bizarre and absurd are flung together in this strikingly original collection ofshort stories from new American writer Gummerman. llip surrealism a la Tom Waits. I Uncle Henry’s Last Stand Alasdair McKee (Richard Drew £4.99) Self-confessed misanthropist ‘Uncle Henry‘ takes on ten-year-old orphan Roderick to a fate much worse than RLS‘s Kidnapped. vis-a-vis wicked uncles. Dry. wry humour in this first noveL I Double Whammy Carl lliassan (Pan £3.99) Photographer’parbtime gumshoe. R.J. Decker. is hired by an excessively rich fishing maniac to investigate bass-fishing cheating in Florida. An overdose of fish. lunatics and some vicious humour. I The Toe-Rags Daphne Anderson (Cardinal £5.99) Heart-tugging autobiography of a white girl‘s Cinderella-like upbringing by her relatives in pre-war Southern Rhodesia. European colonialists get it in the neck. I Most Secret War R.V. Jones (Hodder and Stoughton £8.99) Professor Jones lets rip on wartime
Joanna Be In My Bang
Collectors ol spurious comparisons may care to contrast the career ot Lisa St Aubin de Teran with that of David Bowie. In the mid-70s, more bombastic rock journalists asserted that Bowie’s status as a rock star was itselt the work oi art, his recorded output being little more than props. Similarly, since the publication at her tlrst novel, Keepers ol the House, in 1982, the career of Jersey-bum de Teran has come to represent something more than the sum at its parts.
Thrice married and still in her30s, an inveterate traveller who insists on carting several trunk-loads ot clothes around with her, de Teran's bushbaby eyes and whispering, childlike voice do not square readily with her reported claim that she beats up men who bother her. It required to sum her up in a phrase, one would be forced to say that she most closely resembles a character lrom a Lisa St Aubin de Teran novel - hardly surprising, as so much oi her work is autobiographical.
Her new book, Joanna, is a fictional reconstruction of the lives at three generations of her iamily: her own mother, the titular character, initially known as Joan; her grandmother, Kitty, a deeply neurotic woman who can
toresee the deaths at others; and her
Lisa St Aubin de Teren
great-grandmother, Florence, a stabilising inlluence who protects the young Joan as best she can irom the attacks, both mental and physical, at Kitty.
Divided into ioursections, each narrated by one of these three women, Joanna is clearly, for its creator, the most important book she has written thus tar. ‘To date it’s my most accomplished book at the level oi structure and language,’ she says. ‘On the other hand, I took eight years to write it, so it I wasn't pleased with it now there would be something wrong.‘
During those eight years, however, de Teran did publish two other novels —
The Bay at Silence and Black Idol — both written when she was ‘having diiiiculty' with Joanna. Unlike the usual sell-publicists who claim their latest work is always their best, de Teran gladly asserts that neither at these works was as important as Joanna, or, indeed, as herthird novel, The Tiger,
which she regards as her best work beiore Joanna. ‘l personally lelt happiest with The Tiger,‘ she says. ‘lt's
not as accomplished as i could have written it now, but it was the best I could do then.‘
Yet, while The Tigermay, stylistically speaking, have a lew rough edges, it remains virtually the only novel written in English to successlully incorporate the lessons oi the predomiantly Latin-American genre, magical realism. Joanna, by contrast, is, ior de Teran, a strangely inactive book; the tact that all three narrators are looking back on events from late on in their lives, and that the same events are retold by two or all three oi the women means that what action there is in the book is rendered rather ﬂat: at scarcely a single moment is there any dramatic tension.
Joanna, then, is a qualified disappointment. Nothing thatdeTeran writes will ever be less than interesting, and perhaps her very closeness to the material made her unable to write at her best. Perhaps, having exercised these iamily memories, de Teran will revert to works of the imagination as opposed to those based on her own history: both The Tiger and The Marble Mountain, a volume ol short stories recently published in paperback, prove that she does not need tactual source material to write well.
Joanna may indeed be her most important book to date - tor de Teran. Forthe reading public, though, one can only say that the situation remains as it was beiore Joanna’s publication: it you are only going to read one book by de Teran, make sure it's The Tiger. (Stuart Bathgate)
Joanna by Lisa St Aubin de Teran is published by Virago, priced £12.95.
escapades at British Scientific Intelligence. Cracking German radar just about takes precedence over schoolboy practical jokes.
I GLASGOW HERALD PEOPLE'S PRIZE FOR FICTION The short leet for this year‘s £5000 prize is: James Kelman A Disaffection. Allan Massie A Question of Loyalty. Eric McCormack The Paradise Motel. Carl McDougall Stone Over Water. William Mcllvanney Walking Wounded. and Candia McWilliam A Little Stranger. Library readers throughout Scotland are invited to take part in a ballot to decide the winner. Forms and extra copies of the shortlisted books available from your local library. Closing date 31 August.
I WATERSTDNE’S 132 Union Street , 221 0890.
Wed 20 7pm. Iain Crichton Smith will give a reading from his poetry.
I OPEN WORLD PDETICS Glasgow \
School of Art. 167 Renfrew Street. For information contact 041 959 6033 or0~il 334 6480.
Tue 26 7.15pm. The collective which makes up this group will present an evening ofpoetry and prose readings. I FANTASIA SCIENCE FICTION FESTIVAL Contact Michelle Drayton. l0 Atlas Road. Springburn. 558 2862. Sat 23—Sun 24 June£16 Attending, £5 Supporting. With a programme that incorporates SF Fantasy in films. quizzes and print. the special guest for the conference is Katherine Kurtz, popular Irish fantasy writer.
I West and Wilde Bookshop 25a Dundas Street. 556 0079.
Tue 12 Colin Spencer. author and journalist. will read and sign copies of Which of Us Two?: A Story ofa Love Affair, a biographical account of the relationship between himselfand John Tasker.
I CENTRAL LIBRARY George IV Bridge, 225 5574. Mon—Fri 9am—8.30pm, Sat 9am—1pm.
Until Thurs 21 ‘A Reputation for
Excellence‘. A fascinating exhibition in the Edinburgh Room charting Scottish Book Printing 1507—1988. organised by the Scottish Printing Archive Trust.
Until Sat 16 Display of prize-winning entries in the Spring Fling Poetry Competition. in the Scottish library. Until Sat 16 One Ilundred Years. One Hundred Books. Celebrating the library’s centenary. this display is in the Reference library.
I SPRING FLING
Fri 15 8pm. West End Hotel. Palmerston Place. £1 (50p). Edinburgh Writers Association presents ‘Third Friday" — Poems and Pints with guest author James Kelman.
Sat 16 9am—12.30pm. McDonald Road Library. 2 McDonald Road, 556 5630. A centenary book sale with ex-library stock at bargain prices.
Sat 16 and Sat 24 2—5pm. Scottish Poetry Library. Tweeddale Court. 14 High Street. 557 2876. An afternoon ofcourtyard readings. Bring along some of your own work or work which you particularly enjoy to read. Or. ifyou prefer. just listen.
i6 Thie‘liist 15—28June 1990