(PENGUIN £4.99)

AT 6.00pm, THURSDAY 25th JULY



l l l



- 10-26 AUGUST 1991-


Programme Available Now

Please send two letter stamps to: BOX R, EDINBURGH BOOK FESTIVAL, 251 SOUTH WEST 111151113 STREET LANE. EDINBURGH EHl IEW

L__.--. _ . 82 The List 12—25 July 1991


Edmund White and Kenneth Williams. Christopher lsherwood and Hanif Kureishi. all are treated in the same serious. uncritical tone. and the reader begins to feel like an eavesdropper into conversations that chummily discuss characters in novels and famous friends without any attempt at background information for those not in the know.

Patricia Highsmith is the only woman writer included. and this is another annoying omission. although it probably reflects the usual male bias ofmost gay magazines if there isn‘t going to be any discussion of lesbian writers or writing. this should be made clear at the start as it raises quite distinct issues. Overall. a good effort. but Burton could most certainly do better. (Andrea Baxter)


How do publishers manage to get the quotes which they need for their book covers? asks Philip Parr. Take Little Bits of Baby (Paladin £5.99) by Patrick Gale. ‘Savage. satirical. often very funny‘ apparently gushed the Daily Mail. and one can‘t help thinking that the reviewer was sent the latest Tom Sharpe in the wrong cover rather than Mr Gale‘s novel. Or maybe it‘s just that the Mail finds a discussion of homosexuality both savage and ‘often very funny'. All of this is a little unfair. because it is actually an enter taining book. but in a gentle and persuasive way rather than the bludgeon which one expects having read the review.

The prize for this week‘s best packaging must go to Bluette (Sceptre £6.99). Ronald Frame's novel explodes from the shelf in a gold and blue effect that is more reminiscent ofa Cadbury‘s wrapper than anything usually pushed out of those stuffy old publishing houses. A woman reclines on a chaise-longue. and one can only dive in with expectancy further heightened by the glowing recommendations on the cover. Once inside. naturally enough. the book is a big disappointment. Frame has written a Jackie (‘ollins without the spice and. as we all know. that makes for pretty turgid reading. Poor girl goes to brothel and. via various misdeameanours. ends up as society queen of the States. This may give Victoria Principal something to get her teeth into in a mini-series. but there are many better ways to spend one's reading hours.

For example. how about Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance (Vintage £5.99)? This book has been around for years and must have been

the mainstay of many a woolly philosophising session amongst student sociologists. But how many of them had actually read it‘.’ Robert M. Pirsig‘s view oflife/handbook of basic engineering is certainly quirky.

frequently going into utterly unnecessary detail when on maintenance mode. but his ideas are uplifting and illuminating. And for once. the cover quotes are correct; this is a work that ‘everybody should read‘ rather than just pretend that they have.

In a similar vein. Notes From a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel (Vintage £5.99) finds another American (Evan S. (Tonnell this time) and his philosophies being resurrected for popular consumption. Vintage have hit the mark again. for this ‘prose poem‘ provokes more pondering. re-reading and analysing than any of the world‘s ‘real' philosophers (long beard. no forename. etc.) that I‘ve come across. The message is simple enough the world‘s a bitch and it always will be but Connell‘s method ofarriving at this conclusion is constantly fascinating.

Find a publisher who you think you can trust and suddenly something like Airships/Ray (Vintage £5.99) pops out. This is a collection of stories which are virtually all written in the first person and. that being the case. what a nasty little man Barry Hannahmust be. Reading about redneck Mississippi boys is one thing. but having to listen to one mouthing offis another matter entirely. The one item of interest in Hannah‘s work is the numberof personal hang-ups which shine through his sordid tales. They give the impression that he has a fairly miserable life. Well. I certainly hope i so.


i 1 Glasgow }

I WATERSTONE'S L'nion Street. 321 U89”. Thurs 25 bpm. l’oel Brian McCabe \\ ill read lrom his first nosel Ilic ()I/Icr Ill ( or.

no“ published in paperback t l’engum. UH") Subtitled ' \ connes od\ ssc\ on

the streets ol l'tllltbtll tlh'. the book stats I’ali ick .\le( o\ . penniless. hungm er and Ioie\ei on the b1 ink ol losing his eul


IJAMES THIN 53 59 South lli idge. 5% (WI?

Fri 12 “pm, Mary Gaitskill. eelebi .iled and lll\\IL‘IlUll\ young American lltl\L'Il\I.\\lII lead li'om her new book [H o (in/s. I'll] um/ l/llll ((‘halloand \deus. £13.99) and Amy Tan \\ iII read lrom l/lt‘ ls'm lien (ioil's ll'i/t-H'ollms. t I499) hersecond nosel. and the story of one \soinan'slile. starting in pre-iesolutionary (‘hinaand ending in America. Both \\ rileis \\ i|| talk about their work and sign copies.

lhe annual book sale continues tlllIlI .\It)n I5.Iul.

I NORTHWORDS LITERARY MAGAZINE The first issue ot this new magazine should be on the shelses at the end ol August. Inthe meantime the editorsare inxiting submissions of poetry . short storiesaud short plays. Submissions. with sac. should be sent to Angus Dunn. Northwords. West lind ('ottage. Blairninieh. Siralhpeller. Ross-shire.