I Sleeping With Monsters: Conversations with Scottish and Irish Women Poets ed. Rebecca E. Wilson and Gillean Somervillc-Arjat (Polygon £8.95) ‘My language is female-coloured as well as Scottish-coloured.' says Liz Lochhead. This book is an explanation ofwhat it means to be a writer. when that is ‘colourcd‘ by both your gender and your nationality. Twenty-five women talk about their lives as writers: about the physical and mental processes; about feminism. nationalism and motherhood.
The conversations are set in context by descriptions of where and how they took place: in cafes and kitchens. with food. kids. cigarettes. This emphasises the ordinary lives of these women. at the same time as the interviews. together with selections from their work. show them to be creative and extraordinary. Often this has been achieved in the face of enormous odds — including the fact that many ofthcm grew up at a time when women weren‘t expected to be poets at all.
‘The only poets I knew were men.‘ says one. ‘I didn‘t know any women who wrote poetry.‘ For writers in the 90s. at least there will be Sleeping With Monsters: ample and inspiring
BRIGHT, BEAUTIFUL BOOKS FOR
i l l i i
ARE YOUR FEETiTIRED AND AOHING FROM WALKING JROUND'TRYING TO FIND THE RIGHT CHRISTMAS'PRESENTS? SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS BY GOING INTO YOUR HMSO BOOKSHOP '-
proofof the existence ofwomen
poets. and a fascinating read for
anyone interested in the creative process. (Elizabeth Burns)
Miranda France assesses the best and the worst of the new releases.
‘Nice girls don't go all the way'. warns Leigh‘s momma in Web of Dreams (Fontana £7.99). the latest Virginia Andrews blockbuster. and published posthumously. Unfortunately, where Ms Andrews is cornerned. nice girls don‘t get much choice. particularly if they are pre-pubescent and have hair like spun gold — which they inevitably do. In this case Leigh‘s seducer is step—father Tony. Suave and handsome though he is. the mere thought of his gargantuan sexual appetite gives Leigh‘s momma a headache. So. with her implicit consent. Tony turns his lust-glazed eyes on little Leigh and hey presto. we have another book about child abuse dressed up as romantic eroticism. The setting. Farthingale Manor. is a sort of latter-day Mandcrley. complete with English nanny and gardener. and characters sport names like Troy. Cleave and Heaven. Available now in all good
Bring the past to life with TRACING YOUR SCOTTISH ANCESTORS
A really useful source of reference for anyone who
wants to start tracing their Scottish ancestors. but
doesn't know quite where to begin. Paperback £5.95
THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY
(Iolourful and dramatic photos. and a specially—prepared
()rdnance Survey map make this new edition a must for
.\lap and book are presented in an attractive box £9.95
Virginia Andrews may be six feet under. but Dick Francis is still fighting fit and gaIIOping along towards a 28th bestseller. I put his success down to all 28 having a one or two-word title. In this latest. Straight (Pan £4.50), our hero starts off with a crushed foot — a horse fell on it — and gets beaten up several times in his search for the truth behind the apparently unremarkable death of his jewel-dealing brother (hit by falling scaffolding). Inevitably. the plot takes us into the shady world of London antique dealers. although Francis manages to keep one foot firmly on the race track. The result is brisk, efficient prose and no messing abouL
For some serious navel- contemplation, look out Silver Moon Books‘ new lesbian romantic novel. Curious Wine (£5.99) by Katherine V. Forrest. The story kicks. or rather nudges. offwith four women spending a male-free weekend at a ski-lodge. During this time they relate to one another. explore their feelings towards love and sex and help each other with the pain as only Americans can. Sometimes they explode into rather petulant and unlikely fits of rage with one another. Almost convincing is the love affair between Diana and Lane. both of them recovering from shattered marriages and both of
them nervous about their mutual attraction. Even so the style is too careful and there's something desperately earnest about all the hand-squeezing. warm smiles and supportive hugs.
IfDiana and Lane are in any doubt about their sexuality. Kate in People in Trouble (Sheba £5.99) certainly is not. The protagonist of Sarah Schulman‘s new novel. she declares that ‘I always knew I would get to women eventually‘. Kate's husband Peter has no serious objections to her relationship with Molly. but Molly hates Peter. Kate loves them both. The setting is futuristic; it is the end of a suffocating New York summer. an apocalyptic time when no one remembers life before AIDS. As the government ignores repeated pleas for help a group of gay guerillas decide that it is time to take action. It‘s fast-moving stuff: up-beat. gung—ho. New York.
Try Anything Twice (Virago £4.99). on the other hand. is not. It is a Virago Classic by Jan Struthers. whose biographer describes her as having been ‘born with a canteenful ofsilver spoons‘. Remembered mostly for the best-selling Mrs Minlver. Struthers published essays and poems in The Spectator. New Statesman and Punch during the 30s and 40s. This is a collection of some of the best. Very good Christmas present material. (Miranda France)
And from Rosalind K Marshall...
This new biography from a favourite author vividly
recreates key personalities at the linglish and
French courts and conveys the trattma of lives
torn apart by the civil war.
QUEEN OF SCOTS
‘A well-written and sumptuoust illustrated
life of the tragic queen‘ said the (ilasgow llerald. Paperback £7.95
AND THERE’S NOT ONLY BOOKS, BUT ALSO CHRISTMAS CARDS, STATIONERY, VIDEOS, AND MUCH MORE ""50 BOOKSHOP, 71 LOTHIAN ROAD, EDINBURGH TELEPHONE: 031 228 4181 OPEN MONDAY TO FRIDAY 9 - 5 AND ON SATURDAYS ‘TILL CHRISTMAS FROM 10 - 5
The List 7 — 20 December 199” 93