capitalise on this intrigue while unashamedly blowing his own legal trumpet in Reversal at Fortune (Penguin £4.99). I‘ll admit toa certain fascination with the secret life ofthe obscenely rich. but this book makes tortuous reading all the same.

The bleak deprivation of Carol-Ann Courtney‘s Morphine and Daily Mixtures (Penguin £3.99) provides a dismal contrast to the vices ofwealthy America. Set in 50s London. the book describes the harrowing physical and psychological abuse inflicted by her morphine-addicted father. This is artlessly written. which suits the reminiscences of a child but lacks sufficient expression to arouse much empathy. Perhaps this is better material for the accompanying BBC production.

Dr Arthur Janov specialises in the repurcussions ofchildhood trauma in the updated version of his celebrated Primal Scream The New Primal Scream (Abacus £5.99). He stresses the dangers of the repression of primal pain experienced as far back as birth. and while he offers few new approaches to psychology he excels in simple explanations. Janov seems vaguely alarmist in his apocalyptic insistence on the increasing enormity of mental illness not good news if you're feeling a little neurotic.

74'l'hc List 25 January— 7 February 1991

You may prefer to drown your sorrows with Superplonk (Faber £4.99), the compilation of Weekend Guardian columnist Malcolm Gluck. He provides an easy guide to supermarket wines. garnished with his distinctive, puzzling and refreshing approach. for example, praising a claret for its aroma of ‘stale baked beans and wet plaster’. However. this is not particularly relevant to the Scottish reader as many ofthe listed supermarkets do not yet exist here.



I EDINBURGH BOOK FESTIVAL Charlotte Square Gardens.

10—26 Aug For the fifth time round. this biennial book bonanza returns with the familiar Children‘s Fair. Meet the Author events. lunchtime readings and the Beck‘s Spiegeltent with cabaret throughout the day. New themes will be Food and Drink. which will include guest Ken Horn and a ‘Women in Crime’ series with talks by Ruth Rendell. PD. James and Sara Paretsky.

To mark the centenary of the birth ofScottish novelist Neil Gunn. the Scottish Arts Council together with the Book Festival will hold a three-day international writers” conference on The Novel. Already


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vailablc from all good bookshop

confirmed are Mario Vargas Llosa. Brian Moore. Richard Ford, Amos 02. David Maloufand Josef Skvorecky.

Other writers include Mary Wesley. Penelope Lively, Richard Hoggart, Angela Carter and, for children. RolfHarris. Michael Rosen, Frank Muir and Gene Kemp.

A full programme will be available late June from Box R, Edinburgh Book Festival, 25a SW Thistle Street Lane, Edinburgh, EH2 IEW. Tel ()312251915.

I POETRY ASSOCIATION OF SCOTLAND Meetings at 27 George Square. Info 031334 5241.

Fri 25 7.45pm. Annual subscription £5. Single meeting£1 (Free). Members Night and AGM Poems for Burns’s birthday, chosen and read by members on the theme of: ‘Then gently scan your brother man, Still gentler sister woman. '

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

Competition To celebrate 21 years of Paladin publishers, Thin‘s are running a competition featuring the works of Flann O’Brien whose works are published by Paladin. £50 of

books are at stake. Further details from the shop.

I WEST AND WILDE 25a Dundas Street. 5560079.

Tue 5 8pm. A women-only event with Caroline Natzler reading from and signing copies of her first full collection ofshort stories Water Wings (Only Women Press £4.95). Natzler is a lesbian feminist author whose work has appeared in four anthologies and numerous journals. She is currently a writing teacher at Goldsmith‘s College. London.


I JOHN SMITH AND SON 57 St Vincent Street. Info 041 204 4028. ext 313 (Cathy Boylan).

Thurs 316.30pm. David Grossman will 5

read from and sign copies of his new book. The Smile oft/1e Lamb (Jonathan Cape. £13.99).

I OPEN CIRCLE Hillhead Library. 348 Byres Road. Info from Alistair Paterson. 388 Great Wester Road. G4 9H2. 041 334 1652.

Frl17pm. Poetry evening featuring Richard Burton. Tim Cloudsley. Tom Lamb. Robert McDougall. Alistair Paterson and Jack Withers.

Flaccid fantasies

A catalogue oi embarrassing chat-up rituals and a myriad oi skinny girls in tight black mini skirts and ‘iuttlng jerseys’ are what preoccupy Charles Palliser’s Englishman abroad. The Sensationist, a strangely adolescent novel for a man who is old enough to know better, iollows the rocky road to love and ireedom -two completely diiierent things pursued by an Englishman with hyperactive hormones.

Reaching the ‘cold northern city’, unnamed, but recognisable as the pre-cuitural void that was Glasgow, David iinds himseli isolated amidst an alien race. Reduced to the trivial ritual at daily existence, punctuated only by work and sleep, the sell-crowned sensationist undertakes a crash course at sex, partying and more sex. Recoiling irom the mundanity oi the work which dragged him north, David, steeped in sell-pity and alcohol, iinds that chicks iall like dominoes, even without ioreplay. With eyes like butterilies, he iinds his gaze ‘scanning hip-high tight skirts, the vulnerabilities oithighs and knees, oi slender calves‘, and like every good hero, he attains his goal. Thrustingly.

Alter examining the nature at sensation, and iinding it in all shapes and sizes, David's senses numb. Following each session, the cold light at day penetrates, and that old morning-alter ieeling settles: ‘But then the consequence: nothing resolved. The cycle resumes.‘ And then comes Lucy. Finding the sweet breath oi love to be superior to the rasping groan

Charles Palliser

during a prolonged bout oi intercourse, l

Palliser’s sensationist discovers that there is ieeling above the belt. Fired by her casual dismissal of him, he becomes a man obsessed with a woman of childish beauty and an

attractive masochistic streak. Glasgow

is transiormed irom a grizzly hell hole oi despairto an enchanting ‘Florence turned inside out' during a briei period

oi paradisal joy, just beiore the rot sets


Palliser, acclaimed ior his lirst novel The Duincunx, is surprisingly conventional in his iantasy oi passion and despair. Whorls oi spinning metaphors resolving themselves into iamiliar images. Characterisations which may be small, but are more ilaccid than iirm. And not a condom in sight. This man should come with a government health warning. (Kathleen Morgan).