Both Plath and Woolfwrote fine 3 short stories that could have been I included instead if space was a problem but to chop up their finest work and shove bits in out ofcontext 7 seems little short ofcriminal. lris Murdoch. Edna O‘Brien. Jean Rhys and others sufferthe same treatment.
Searching for some raison d'etre to this collection. I turned to the introduction by Deborah Moggach. but this turned out to be as muddled as the work it prefaces. Moggach seems decently embarrassed by the task she has been set and all she can come up with is a few doubtful observations about the superior perceptive powers of women and some feeble anecdotes about the travails ofbeing a woman writer. My 5 guess is that this anthology is merely i an inconsidered attempt to jump on the Women’s Studies bandwagon and persuade the unwary to part with ; £30 that would have been better put ’ to use buying the paperbacks of j complete novels by these authors. 1 (Frances Cornford)
REMEM— PINK PROSE
I Talking To. . . Peter Burton (Third llouse £5.95) Alongside the pretentious claim to be the most important gay publication of 1991. this collection of interviews with gay writers or 'writers writing on gay themes' — which covers those unhappy with the label — features a completely out-of-place half-naked bloke on the cover. The tacky production. lack ofcontext and superﬂuous index just haven't been thought out properly and mar what is otherwise quite an interesting collection.
Peter Burton has been writing for various gay periodicals for over twenty years. and his technique is excellent:he‘sshaminglyprepared l and knowledgeable and doesn't attempt to judge his subjects - unlike. say. the Independents feared ' Lynn Barber — which is probably more ethical but tends towards an undiseriminating blandness at times.
Upper case E twit
John ‘Lofty' Wiseman, the man who I wrote the SAS Survival Handbook some years ago is a great capitaliser. l have : two reasons for saying this: firstly, he has just come up with a new book—the ~ Urban Survival Handbook—which is being sold on the back of the success of i the first; and secondly, he writes in a ' very declamatory style which involves putting individual words in the upper case for no PARTICULAR reason.
The Urban Survival Handbook pretends to be the indispensible guide
i to living in a modern city, just as the
SAS Survival Handbook was an indispensible guide to
. backwoodsmanship. Unfortunately, it failsinthisendeavourontwocounts:
firstly, it’s not indispensible; and secondly, large swathes of it have
1 bugger all to do with living in a modern
city. It consists of twelve sections which
contain advice on topics ranging from
the safety aspects of DIY to what to do if
1 the place where you work is attacked by 1 terrorists. Some of the advice, though,
is simplistic to the point of asininity. The section entitled ‘Safety First‘ enjoins you to make sure that you ALWAYS shut cupboard doors— otherwise you, or someone else, could receive a jolly nasty injury. NEVER, it continues, put sharp knives into the washing up water with other items as it is easy to grasp the blade unintentionaly—wash, wipe, and put away with care. It doesn’t actually tell j you not to use a sharpened carving j knife for removing grit from your eye, ;
Who Dares Wins, or Who Put: the Knives Away and Doesn't Get Cut?
Some of the advice seems silly, and some just irrelevant. It may be true that , members of the SAS always wear carpet slippers when inside the domicile, but you can’t help giggling when somebody tells you this, and you can’t help wondering why an urban survival guide aimed at British people contains advice on what to do when confronted by the highly venomous Malay Pit Viper. (Avoid it. Thanks very much, Lofty, given time and an advance from a friendly publisher, ltoo might well have been able to work that oneoun.
Some of the advice, though is just priceless. Remember, corgis can kill. 0n public transport, always sit with both feet on the‘floor; knives are deadly and can inflict serious injuries; if bitten by a rabid dog, seek URGENT medical attention; and my personal favourite — the safest way to deal with a bomb or suspect device is to get as faraway from it as possible. This book HAS changed my life. (Iain Grant)
The Urban Survival Handbook by John
M JOHN HARRISON Climbers
’Draws the reader on by the clarity of his vision and writing .;. Bears comparison with ThisSporting Life. I know no higher praise’
The Independent ’Sheer Brilliance'
C “L 3535 Mm atwmsm “my,
(W new“ .. 'N N m. «n...» W
' Iain Banks
m [Meg/(1 sir .-.
’An irresistible novel. Its virtuoso I. prose never falters;
Published 2:3 lulu
out now from
EMMA TENNAN\ Sisters and ‘ Strangers
’Exuberant imagery and enjoyably sardonic wit’ Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times £4.00 Paperback
'. s , f" >¢§ -_‘) o u :o‘ ' -‘\‘ ‘ u ‘iz'f ~ei. ,, \\| ‘ \\-\: \.
Some books you just can’t live without
Wiseman is published by Harper Collins at £10.99.
but I would not have been surprised to j read it if it had.
The List 12 — 35 July [00181