Blood and guts Whilethe majority otcity dwellers are

gazing at the skyline, Janice Galloway concentrates on what she might tread

in, observing aspects of urban life from

which most of us are trying to avert our gaze. After the success of The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, a novel exploring the mind of an all too sane woman undergoing a breakdown, follows Blood, a collection of short stories. Here she focuses on fear, experienced through violence, obscenity, old age and blood itself: ‘Fear is the emotion I‘llzero in on because I‘m tascinatedto know what fear is- if I‘m afraid, why am I alraid?‘ This all sounds grim, but that's notthe way she tells it: beneath herfinely wrought prose, her candour and clarity of vision, lies a wealth of humour—an innate appreciation of life‘s notalways pleasing texture. I made the mistake of assuming that

her liction belongs especially to

Glasgow. She in fact encompasses a

wider Scottish experience: ‘A lot of the

stories in Blood aren‘t about Glasgow

i' at all, they‘ve been subsumed by

Glasgow, because a lot of people are

determined that there's such a thing as

a Glasgow writers‘ movement, and I

get lumped inthere. Things are

endorsed because we see them on TV—


Janice Galloway

Glasgow‘s real because you‘ve seen it

on Taggart. lfyou live in a place like

Saltcoats you‘ve got this feeling that

~ you‘reIeadinganinauthenticlife. ' There‘s a feeling of having the

potential that you might not exist at any moment, that comes across in my stories— it‘s a kind of Ayrshire experience and also a female expeuencef

Thistemale experience is central to herwork. She recounts incidents of intimidation and confrontation all too recognisable to women. In ‘Fearless‘, an ageing drunk persecutes the women he encounters on the street while their menfolk look on with amused appreciation otthis male bravado. ‘Need for Restraint‘ depicts Alice‘s bewildered intervention in a street brawl, in the lace of male indifference. Galloway explains: ‘Women are also observing. It‘s time we started to say to men “we’re everywhere and we‘re

watching as well. Here‘s how it looks


sometimes guys, how does itfeel?“ I‘d like to heartheir responses and that‘s why I'm fascinated by Kelman‘s writing it‘s so thoroughly, red-bloodedly male. He‘s aware of his sex in his writing and that‘s crucial because there are still cartloads of men writing as if what they‘re talking about is the objective truth and that‘s utter nonsensef

Her women‘s worlds have a mullled quality— it‘s a bit like watching television with the sound turned down. ‘That‘s very much the experience of beingtemale,‘ she says.

Galloway suggests ‘that Scottish men get foxed by the feminist argument because the way they see the world, women have always had power. The traditional Scottish matriarch gave rise to the romanticised notion that comes from the likes of Mcllvanney—that a woman is a kind of economic miracle-worker. It‘s no kind of power at all; it‘s drudgery and no longer appropriate.‘

Galloway, though, is nota ‘man-hating‘ feminist: ‘I like men, I always thought that was part of the point of feminism, to try to construct a way of getting on with the other half of the world. I’ve never had much sympathy for separatism. Yes, I like men. I delerminedly make myself sometimes.‘ (Charlie Llewellyn)

Blood is published by Secker & Warburg, priced £12.99.


will be signing


(Orbit £12.95) and


(Orbit £7.99)


SATURDAY 30th MARCH from 1.00pm - 2.00pm


FORBIDDEN PLANET 168 Buchanan Street, Glasgow 041 331 1215


78 The List 22 March 4 April 1991


l A Place I've Never Been l)Lt\'ltl l.eayitt (Viking £13.99) In this collection ofshort stories. each tale has its own gentle moral and sure understanding of human nature under the unfamiliar stress of the crucial dilemma. The title story tells of lose and confidence consumed by the imposing possibilityof‘All)S. (‘elia wears her loye for her childhood friend Nathan like a shoulder-bag. cony'inced ofits uselessness but comforted by its familiarity. Then the potentially fatal phone call from an ex—oner hurls Nathan from a self—fashioned pedestal. to confront his loy'eles‘s and now almost sexless life. clinging all the time to the sleeye of his closest ally. who in the meantime. has taken a good hard look at her own life. (‘elia's plight is a recurrent theme in l.eayitt‘s hotch-potch ofglimpses ofgay middle-class America. 'l'he struggle between self-realisation and its fringe disadyantages in a society intolerant ofthe slightest ripple. is taken from the political level down to the extremely personal. where eyen the heartbeat of his agonised characters might be felt. lillen. a caring. sharing social worker. is granted the humiliation of attending her cx-loyer‘s wedding to a dream husband. And in ‘l louses'. a real-estate salesman is left to frequent any of the fill houses in his

charge. but finds that. in this world at least. only one mansion is allowed. l.eay'itt‘.s sweet and sourstoiiesare thought-proy'okirigandentertaining. bill the kick which is promised is rarely deliy'ered. with the result that his writing can irritate as much .is it entrances. (Kathleen .‘yfoigaiii


I The Five Gates of Hell l{l1[‘cll 'l‘homson(Bloomsbury Lll‘l‘li Rupert llltllllstlll has taken .\iiiei‘ica and created Moon Beach. a fantastically real place where ilie main industry is burying people at sea because the land is full. Supermarkets boast their prices are six feet under the competition‘s. undertakersady'ertise on sugar—cube wrappers ( they ‘y'e got a monopoly among diabetes sufferers). and the people who driy e hearses tend to help fill them too.

Moon Beach is more than iust an artistic impression of New York or Miami. with the message that capitalism stinks cony e}. ed neatly by the fact that the main source of i ' income is death, lllttlllsitll giy cs us enough about his creation to allow us to beliey'e in if on its ow Il l‘c‘I'Ill\. l lc giy‘es it an inner logic dei'iy ed from the way all cities work. life newspapers. cars. bars. drug addictions and personal problems are only too familiar.

As if this w as not enough. 'l‘homson giyes us w ell draw ll.

interesting characters. 'l'lie plot is

gripping and satisfying in its conclusion. delightfully grotesque in detail. lfy‘cn the minor characters show great craft. 'l'he uarratiy c oyerall has skill and wit. with the sort of precision sought but not often found in noyel writing. (‘l'lii iiiias ()uinn)


I Cutting Edgeloliii l l.tI\e'\ i\ ikiiig

U30”) ( 'oiiibiiiing the dress sense of

(‘olumbowith a liking loi l’olisli

delicatessen food. cats and l)etectiye liispectoi ("liai'lie Resiiick patises only to take a s\\ ig of t Q/eeli Bud and a mouthful of rye l‘l earl If] his bid to llllI".l\ el a series i if scalpel

attacks on the staff of a \fidlaiids teachinghospital

ill a crime iioy el which iiiaiiages to

combine seiisitiye w i'itiiigwitlitlie stock yiolerieeandsiispeiiseol the

genre. eyeii rapists. Iaddisli

policemen and dei'eliets ai e .lllt iw ed

feelings. llll\ is Hot laltloitl ci tiiie

where only fiends kill. \ ietiiiis ar e

young and innocent. and the police bay e no comment. lo the sound of Duke lilliiigtoii.

.lohn l laryey careers the reader from


police station to iiioi'gue. ruggliiig subplots and cutting betw eeii

characters as frequently as be . changes paragraphs. You need your

wits about you. but the reward is a plot which is substantial. ingenious, and as satisfy iiig as bani on rye. (\ltitlelllle Slayenl