51st state. before Puerto Rico beats us to it. After reading this well-written and information-packed book. I know which option I‘d choose . . . . . God Bless Europe. (David M. Bennie)


I Parliament Adam Lively (Chatto Countcrblasts £3.99)This is the fifteenth in (Thatto‘s welcome series afpocket polemics. in which Britain‘s thinkers are invited to bend their minds around ‘the crucial issues ofthe day‘. The bee in Adam Lively‘s bonnet has to do with our undemocratic Parliamentary system.

Wistfully he points to the throwing offofshacklcs in Eastern Europe and South Africa where. he says. ‘ideological fictions have crumbled. bureaucracies have been swept away.‘ Surely there is nothing like a total change in regime to keep legions of bureacrats busy.

What we need. Lively argues. is a written constitution. ()nly Britain. New Zealand and Israel do not have one (all those other crumbled regimes did have them). To illustrate his argument Lively points to unconstitutional misdemeanours on both sides: Labour‘s 1974 Prevention ofTerrorism Act. which allows for detention without charge for up to seven days. and the Conservative ban on broadcast


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For further information please teleplionell31 225 1915 Tickets available now from : Edinburgh Book Festival, 25a South West Thistle Street Lane, Edinburgh. or by phone with Visa - (1312251915.

75 The List 27 July 9 August 1991)


interviews with supporters ofSinn Fein The argument that a written

g constitution might either be ignored

- as it is in many countries or allow

for the etching in stone ofsome unpalatable governing principles is not really gone into. lam not convinced by the reasoning. but I do like the reference to politicians‘ ‘sentimental windbaggery‘.

(Miranda France)


[too Vinnicombe dreams ol faraway lands.

Travel guides often err towards the vacuous or the overly fact-crammed. and rarely seem able to convey even an approximation of the local ambience. Two new guides. The Sunday Times Exotic Holiday Guide edited by David Wickers (Simon and Schuster £7.93) and Women Travel edited by Miranda Davies and Natania Jansz (llarrap Columbus £6.95). give a refreshingly personal slant towards the Briton abroad. Both books proffer airport-Iounge-type accounts of experiences in foreign parts and also include accompanying maps and an assortment of useful information on a wide range ofcountries. Of the two. the Sunday Times guide is the more honest and humorous: Fay Weldon's foray into Georgia is a hoot. while Peter Ackroyd evokes the crumbling beauty of(‘airo. Women Travel contains accounts from lone women of any harrassment endured. although they also determinedly reiterate the hospitality and kindness extended by the ‘natives‘.

Anthony Smith is more brutally honest in his Blind White Fish in Persia (Penguin £5.99). where he recounts a student expedition to what is now Iran. Surprisingly Smith‘s dry and reserved account of his true-life adventure is an irrestible read. It brims with wacky details on local

culture and gives a real insight into

the indigenous population. A post-war experience of a

different kind is expressed in Francis

King‘s novel Punishments (Flamingo £3.99). when a young medical student goes on a university cultural exchange to (iermany in 1948. There he meets Aryan iiln’rmt’nsclt.

' Jurgen. and immediately develops a

consuming passion for him. It‘s not so much a window into the (ierman pysche as an illumination ofsexual

awareness. as the student. Michael.

E falls for Jurgen in a big way. An : absorbing but disturbing read.

The American Dream gets a

‘5 kicking in Bharati Mukherjee‘s The ; Middleman and Other Stories (Virago g £4.99). This is a collection ofshort

; stories focused on immigrants in

America and the isolation and confusion they feel when their dreamsofa bright future in the US disintegrate around them. The evils ofcolonialism are obviously not defunct. as Mukherjee convincingly shows in these imaginative stories.


Our culture, considers Jean Baudrillard, ‘is one oi premature eiaculation'. Leave it out, Jean! Yet this turns out to be the central thesis oi Seduction, his 1979 work newly translated into English. Only an intimidatineg lashionable theorist could get away with statements like that and, let's lace it, that’s what Baudrillard is in the Anglo-American world not the least because his work has been pretty unavailable in English.

Where does Baudrillard come lrom? The epitome of radical chic in the 605, he went into the student scene a committed Marxist, and emerged in the 70s as a conirontatlonal social theorist, turning his back on his lormer structuralist colleagues. Provocation became a lormal theoretical strategy, and so he set out to annoy as many people as he could. Historian Michel Foucault was damned in the movingly entitled Forget Foucault, and in Seduction it is the turn at the New Wave French leminists -Julia Kristeva ei al.

And he is so provoking. Seduction seems dedicated to the proposition that there were no days like the good old days, when chicks were chicks and knew their place, and didn't beet oil and get demanding. Baudrillard rejects the formulations oi writers like Luce Irigaray who assert women's rights to sexual satisiaction, castigating their ‘anatomical' dependence and sell-destructive lence-building. Baudrillard seems sublimely sure oi his ground, but in his drive to place a deeper strategy he fails to grasp the subtleties oi varying feminist ideologies. Consequently, the idea of seduction is set up as a model oi social activity against that oi production - the iormer enchanting, mysterious, ritualised, the latter corrupting and (hold onto your hats) bourgeois.

While Baudrillard has manyjolly clever things to say about modern society including outspoken praise of Nico as a non-practising transvestite. and the oppositions between the Rule and the Law - his analytical categories, in the end, give him away. It is hard to be completely sure because


oi the fact oi translation, but who, even in France, is seriously into seduction, even as a metaphorical model? That sort of thing went out years ago. with Valentino and Clark Gable. And bourgeois-bashing . . . not thata lot ol people don’t deserve to get it in the neck. but even using the word reveals a whole network oi snobby social prejudice, like some kind oi patrician art critic.

It has been said of Baudrillard that at least the subject of his analysis, unlike those at hosts of sociologists and anthropologists. is recognisably human. But at what price? The enchantments of seduction are somewhat less enticing than they may have been to the older generation (especially alter a quick reading at Andrea Dworkin) and, however diiiicult to cope with, the arguments ol separatists are worth supporting, or at least criticising constructively. Humphrey Bogart conclusively destroyed the idea oi seduction. in the cinema at least, and in a post-Humphrey society there are some shilts oi consciousness that demand to be taken into account. Like not dwelling on seduction. (Andrew Pulver)

Seduction. by Jean Baudrillard, is published by Macmillan at £30 hardback and £8.99 paperback.




over Scotland are invited to cast their votes with ballot forms and extra copies of the shortlisted books available from your local library. Closing date 31 August.


Tannochside Library ‘A Sense of Place‘, targeting books where location is the main focus.

Cleland Library ‘Just for Laughs‘. funnily enough. humorous tomes. Newarthill Library ‘Desert Island Books‘, a general collection. recommended for holiday reading. After approximately a month each display will be changed.


I WATEBSTONES 114 George Street. '

225 3436.

Thurs 2 7.30pm. Hilary Mantel will be reading from her new book Fludd (Penguin paperback £4.99). which was recently featured on the P. D. James chaired literary programme Speaking Volumes.

Tue 7 7.30pm. Launch ofA Room Full ofBirds: Scottish Short Stories 1990 (Collins £12.95).

I JAMES THIN 53-59 South Bridge. 556 6743.

Until 20 Aug Currently running is the Scots Thesaurus competition with questions based, not surprisingly. on the Scots Thesaurus. the prize being a leather-bound volume of the same published by AUP at £39.95. The hardback edition is available at £18.50.