I MEET THE AUTHOR
All events will take place In The Royal Museum oi Scotland. Into: 2251915.
I CHRISTOPHER AWDRY With stories oi Thomas the Tank Engine as told to him by his lather. Rev W. Awry. But can he imitate that chirpy chappy. Ringo Starr? Fri 17. 10.15am. I HUNTER DAVIES Author oi the Flossie Teacake books reads and talks about his channlng characters. For 5-9 year olds. Sat 18. 10.15am. I AILEEN PATERSON Tales oi the tomboy kitten. liiaisie. For 4-6 year olds. See panel. Sun 19 and Sat 25. 10.15am. I WILLIAM BOYD The author and screenwriter: will discuss his best-selling works which include A Good Man In Atrica and An Ice Cream War and introduces his new novel. Branaville Beach which will be published in the autumn. Sun19. 11.15am. I VIRGINIA MCKENNA AND ANNE HARVEY McKenna. star 01 the tear-jerking Born Free and Ring oi Bright Water. ioins actress Harvey to read lrom Headlines Irom the Jungle. poems ol animals lmm all overthe world. For all 10—100 year oids. Sun 19. 2pm. I BLUE PETER John Leslie and Lewis Bronze, the latest in a long line oi presenters imm the popular children’s show. will talk aboutthe Blue Peter Green Book. 5 years and over. Sun 19. 4pm. I DOROTHY DUNNETT AND CHARLES PALLISER Proliiic historical novelist Dunnett and Palliser. author oi the acclaimed Oulncunx. will discuss researching the historical novel. See panel. Tue 21.11.15am. I BERNARD MAC LAVERTY With two oi his novels. Cal and Lamb. adapted lorthe big screen. Bellast-bom Mac Laverty's dark and emotive style has won him international acclaim. Reading here Irom a selection oi his works which also include The Great Protundo and Secrets. Fri 24.11.15am. I SCOTTISH POETRY LIBRARY AND COURTYARD READINGS Borrow books and tapes. join the intormal perlorrnance sessions and read your own work or the works oi others. Altematlvely. lust sit and listen. The choice is yours. Scottish Poetry Library. Tweedale Court. 14 High Street. 557 2875. Until 18. 20. 22. 24 Aug-1 Sept(not 26). 2.30pm. Free.
_ Maisie magic
Once upon a time. when amphibious superheroes and My Little Emetic Equincs ruled the Earth. there came along an unlikely antidote in the shape of a mischievous kitten dressed in plaid skirt and Fair Isle sweater. She lived in Morningside. Edinburgh. was a bit of a tomboy and her name was Maisie. So popular did she become that recently an exhibition. at Edinburgh‘s Fruitmarket Gallery. was mounted in her honour.
Aileen Paterson. Maisie‘s creator. who appears twice at this year‘s Meet the Author Children‘s Events. has no idea why Maisie is so popular. being all too aware of the hold which strategic marketing has over today‘s children. ‘I think it‘s sad and rather nasty. It‘s selling products to children and giving a bit ofa story. Maisie may not be the greatest piece of literature but I didn‘t sit down and think. “I can sell a lot ofplastic cats if I do this book".'
Instead. Maisie developed from the experiences of Paterson‘s children coupled with her fascination for Morningside. where she lived for
. ten years. ‘There are some
Morningside people who caused me amusement and they‘re part of Scotland. I like them.‘
It would appear then. that with Maisie‘s roots so firmly planted in Scottish culture. her appeal would be limited elsewhere but. on the whole. this doesn‘t seem to be the case. ‘An English songwriter is trying to write some Maisie songs and he‘s having a job but it‘s not so bad. Morningside reverberates from here to New Zealand London people know about it and react awfully well.‘ In Southern Ireland too. where distribution has just begun. Maisie has found new fans.
‘I think Maisie is very much a little girl cat and has an ordinary life in a ﬂat and friends,‘ she says by way of
For her appearances at Meet the Author. Aileen Paterson plans to read an unpublished tale of Maisie‘s adventures in the museum entitled ‘What Maisie Did Next‘. ‘I’m hoping that when we meet. we‘ll have a question and answer session.‘ she says. ‘Children have such superb questions.‘ (Susan Mackenzie)
Aileen Paterson will appear at Meet the A uthor on Sun 19 and Sat 25 at I 0. I 5am.
_ Epic allegory
There’s something strange occurring in literary circles. Usually insulated lrorn the rampant commercialism and marketing which has permeated the rest oi lite. bookshops linaliy seem to be jumping on the advertising merry-go-round. The paperback version oi Charles Palliser’s Ouincunx has been welcomed by Waterstone’s and Thin’s with a messianic lervour. Finding another book in the windows at these shops only seems possible when the atorementloned tome has sold out. Such saturation selling is hardly surprising given that one has to travel a considerable distance to Iind anything other than a glowing superlative about Palliser's ilrst novel.
‘First novel' is a tad inadequate as a description oi the 1200-page. 125-chapter. epic odyssey through the lowlile oI pre-Vlctorian London. Twelve years in the writing and involving an immersion in documents oi the period. the ultimate result is an historical masterpiece but not, hopes Palliser, in the conventional sense.
‘I don’t like the kind at historical novel that piles on masses ol detail iust tor the sake oi it,’ says Palliser. ‘where the author's done an awiul lot at research and is aosolutely determined to let you know it. I tried to write the book not as a historical novel but more as a reconstruction oi a Victorian novel. The diiierence is that a historical novel is written trom now. is
' I; , Jamie,“
looking back at the earlier period and is iinding It all interesting and quaint. Writing an imitation oi a Victorian novel makes it more diiiicult to tail into that trap.’
The social issues which lie at the heart at Duincunx present quite obvious parallels with Britain underthe Conservatives. I wondered ii Palliser had set out to write an allegory tor Thatcherism.
‘Lots ol readers have suggested that and I'm quite ilattered that they do. There are parallels obviously because that was a period when things were beginning to evolve which some people now would like to dismantle. The last deiences against a rampant tree market were being dismantled at that time and the result was massive economic growth but also tremendous exploitation and lurches in the
economy- swings and collapses. That isn't so diiierent lrom today.‘
‘Even it you tried consciously to get away lrom the concerns at your own period it wouldn’t be possible. As it happens, lwasn't. Then again I wasn't trying to construct a table tor the Thatcherite 803 or anything like that. I hope that the book will be remembered when Thatcherism is dead and buried. That said, iiThatcherism hadn't happened I may not have been aware ol the relevance 01 all oi the social issues which the book covers.‘
Palliser has credible iniormation that his book has provided reading tor at least two at the ‘wets’ in the cabinet. I wondered it he relished the chance at implanting bizarre ideals such as concern tor the poor in the minds oi committed tree marketeers.
‘I wanted to write a book that provokes people into thinking rather than tells them what they ought to think. Thatcher seems to have not thought at all. All that stuii about a return to Victorian values - presumably the woman has no idea what Victorian values were. The workhouse. brutal prisons. humiliating treatment at the poor. people starving to death in the streets.‘
Then again. maybe she has given the results oi her policies more consideration than such a nice guy as Charles Palliser would deem possible. (Philip Parr)
Charles Palliser and Dorothy Dunnett will be discussing the historical novel as part oi the Meet The Authors series in The Royal Museum at Scotland. 21
The List 17— 23 August 199049