I Toujours Provence Peter Mayle (Hamish Hamilton £13.99) Bienvenus mes amis to the smug

world of Peter Mayle. Toujours

Provence consists of a series of vaguely vacuous and harmlessly amusing vignettes designed to give the readera jolly insight into the idiosyncrasies and hazards of small-town French life.

These range from whimsical

deliberations on the linguistic

; nuances and sexism ofthe French

7 language and cuisine, moving swiftly down the slippery slope ofennui to

. the perils ofdrinking the local

stomach-scourer. and the downright

desperate accounts of toads singing 5 La Marseillaise and Mr Mayle‘s


constipation problem.

Given the fact that the author has already chronicled his life in Provence in a previous publication. this would seem to be how you say money for old rope. (Ann Donald)


I Van Gogh: A Life Philip Callow (Allison & Busby £8.99) This is a commonsense portrait of the artist. in which Philip Callow chooses to evoke Van Gogh’s life rather than attempting to forward any theories


Come and meet leading travel writer


at 7.00pm on Wednesday 29 May when he will be talking about his new book


fiw~9 Mongoon

with slides from the BBC Television film

Waterstone's 45 - 50 Princes Square, Glasgow

To reserve a signed copy call 041 221 9650



about what made his subject such a tragic figure. Callow does not intimidate the reader with scholarly discussion of the paintings, but relates the works to Van Gogh‘s life, problems and ideas.

To this extent the book propagates the myth of a unique genius, and is part of the industry which values Sunflowers in tens ofmillions. But Van Gogh is such an appealing character, and so much a part of European culture, that he is worth constant re-evaluation. And Callow’s contribution is a fine one. (Thomas Quinn)


I OI Walking In Ice Werner Herzog (Jonathan Cape £5.99) Books are not the medium we’re used to from Werner Herzog. All the more interesting then to read OfWalking In Ice, notes and reveries culled from a tortuous journey, on foot, from Munich to Paris, which he made in 1974. The purpose of the marathon

was to visit Lotte Eisner, seriously ill in hospital, whom Herzog thought so

important to German cinema that he must will her to recover as he slogged through fields and blizzards, footsore and freezing.

This is, the writer says, a little notebook. My guess is that anyone who appreciates Herzog’s films will

be intrigued by his quirky

l l l ! l

observations and the descriptions of his awkward contact with nature. people, villages and towns en route. Detail of physical discomfort and of breaking into empty homes for the night is mixed with accounts of moods which swung between paranoia and resolve, and with stories and imaginings.

The journey must have been a real test of endurance and the greatest get-well gesture of all time; the chronicle of it is absorbing and well written, and Herzog‘s sense of the absurd will make you smile. (Cath Boylan)


Paul Theroux is a well-entrenched member ofthe American literary establishment, so the appallineg garish cover of his latest novel, Chicago Loop (Penguin £3.99), comes as a surprise, writes Andrea Baxter. Perhaps this is a subliminal hint that the contents fall far short of his usual worthy, ifpompous, quality. A man called Parker, a successful executive on the verge of a breakdown, is drawn almost accidentally into sado-masochistie murder through an ad in the Personal column, and then finds his guilt forcing him to live the life of his victim, a lonely young woman. There’s a nasty taste, though, in the relentless misanthropy with which Parker sees the world in the end it became too much for both ofus.

Lighter by far is Robert Nye’s attempt to reconstruct The Memoirs Of Lord Byron (Abacus £4.99), the originals of which were lost to historians and gossips when they were destroyed after his death. Nye plausibly takes on the cynical, vain, self-aggrandising voice of the poet. and there’s plenty ofsexual innuendo and literary in-jokes.

The menacing atmosphere of Southern America‘s redneck belt comes over well in Michael Malone's Time's Witness (Abacus £5.99), with two enlightened cops attempting to stamp out corruption and the Klan when racism erupts during a heated murder trial. A nice update of the wise-cracking crime thriller; intelligent, genuinely tense and

gently humorous.

There are not many laughs around in Christopher Priest‘s The Quiet Woman (Abacus £4.99), which starts out in PD. James territory with a struggling writer looking into the mysterious death of her elderly neighbour, but then strays into an unbelievable morass ofsupernatural forces, fantasy and disturbed sensual scenes.

Phillip Ridley’s Flamingoes In Orbit (Penguin £4.99), on the other hand, will probably give you nightmares. Peopled by weird adolescents with names like Caradog and Cloud, his short stories focus on the dark secrets and violence under the surface of family life, the same themes expressed in his films The Reflecting Skin and The Krays, but

with a carefully understated style. Ominous and sickening but compelling, they are reminiscent in a way ofearly Ian McEwan. Ifyou see anyone reading this on the train, don‘t sit next to them. (Andrea Baxter)


I JOHN SMITH AND SON 57 St Vincent Street. Glasgow, 221 7472.

Thurs 23 6.30pm. Muriel Gray will sign copies of her book-of-the-TV-scries, The First Fifty Munro-Bagging Without/1 Beard(Mainstream £12.99).

Fri 24 12.30pm. Bernard Inoham. once the infamous and influential press secretary to Margaret Thatcher. will sign copies ofhis autobiography Kill The Messenger (Harper Collins£16.99). . I OUTWARO GAZE The second Lesbian & Gay Writing Festival 18 and 19 May. Moir Hall. Mitchell Theatre. Charing Cross. Admission free.

Sat 18 and Sun 19 May 1 1am. Writers Mary Lockhart. Toni Davidson and Edwin Morgan lead workshops on writing at 11am on both days.

Sat 18 2.30pm. Ellen Galiord. an American author living in Edinburgh. will discuss her work. including the classic Moll Cutpurse. Afterwards there will be a Women‘s Writing Roadshow achance for writers to discuss their work and its place in Scottish literature.

Sun 19 2.30pm. ‘Erotic Exile‘: Cherry Smith, Glen Shelton. Bryan Allan and Christina Berry— all contributors to Square Peg magazine discuss sexuality. eroticism and exile. AfterwardsJanice Galloway. Alasdair Gray and James Kelman read from their own selected works.

I FIRST OF MAY POETRY PRIZE Poems on any subject at all. to be judged by Liz Lochhead. Tom Leonard. Valerie Gillies and Edwin Morgan. Application forms are available from Scotia Bar. 112—1 14 Stockwell Street. 552 8681 and should be returned by 31 Aug.


I JAMES TNIN 53—59 South Bridge. Edinburgh ()31 556 6743.

Thurs 16 7pm. Dorothy Dunnett will read from her new novel Moroccan Traffic (Chatto and Windus £13.99). the seventh ‘Johnson Johnson‘ mystery.

I WATERSTONE'S 114—1 16 George Street Edinburgh. 225 3436.

Thurs 23 7.30pm. Margaret Thatcher's former press secretary. Bernard lngharn, will read from and sign copies ofhis autobiography Kill The Messenger (Harper Collins£l6.99).

I WATERSTONE'S 13/14 Princes Street Edinburgh. 556 3034.

Fri 241().45am.eornardlngham will sign copies of his autobiography Kill The Messenger(llarper (‘ollins£l6.99).

I ROOKBOOK PUBLICATIONS The Counting House. West Nicolson Street. Two collections of poems will be launched with readings by Ken Kelly fromJoe Kelly ’3 Wee Brother. and Ken Nelson from Footprian on Formica (Rookbook £2.50 each).



90 The List 17— 30 May 1991