place with a view to having as many aspects of the film industry — stars.
directors. producers -— represented on the printed page.
l7nfortunately. each section reveals very little about the personality of the interviewee. instead preferring to flesh out their cinematic (‘\' with odd anecdotes. Few of these are as accessibly entertaining as Robert Mitchum. and the reader has to be something of a cinephile before the discussions become enjoyable reading. particularly with less commercial names such as Delphine Seyrig and Saty'ajit Ray.
Audience questions rarely rise above the ‘What's your favourite film‘." level. and so the disruption by animal rights activists during Michael (‘imino's defence of The [)Ut’l'lllllllt’l' becomes one of the book's highlights. The whole concept seems to be already restricted to the confirmed film btiff. and even then the extent of new information it contains is debatable. (Alan Morrison)
I My Travels Around The World Nawal Iil Sadawi (.‘ylethuen £17.99) A travel book written by a citizen of the Third World often has an edge to it caused by the inversion of roles it
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implies. ’l‘lie imperialist is now put under the microscope by the erstwhile colonised and the results are often very unflattering. The Egyptian novelist and doctor Sadawi goes to America and is subjected to a segregationist ethos which is more brutally uncivilised than any prejudice she experiences elsewhere. It is not only for the debunking of Western myths of civilisation that this book is valuable though; through journeys to Scandinavia. lndia. Black Africa. the Soviet l'nion and Thailand. Sadawi caustically and . entertaininglydescribesthe various l cultures and their affect on her. Most movingly she relates the various attitudes to sex. colour. class and caste and her growing realisation of the debilitating affect of her family's attitude to her own dark skin colour. [I is only in Black Africa that she is finally able to feel relaxed with her dark brownness.
'l‘he re are many impressively written vignettes here. including a description of a Thai massage parlour and temple which shows their essential similarity to be their money-grabbing misogyny. and another of the well-fed. healthy buffaloes attached to a dairy factory in lndia attended to by peasant women with emaciated children. Sadawi writes vigorously ofsuch paradoxes in a travelogue which is thoroughly recommended. (Alan Rice)
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
I Fishing in Airica Andrew Buckoke (Picador £17.50) The fishing is quite spectacular. apparently. but this book is not really about angling.
Buckoke is a seasoned foreign correspondent. and worked in Africa for about ten years. Fishing in Africa is the result of his skipping off from assignments and taking trips. ostensibly to try out the local trout rivers. but really because. as he says. you can get places with a fishing rod which are inaccessible to people with tape-recorders and cameras.
What Buckoke has come up with is an engaging. and. in the light of recent events in Ethiopia. extremely interesting collection of portraits of what goes on in various African hotspots.
He is particularly good on the Eritrean rebellion and the Sudan. and on his favourite theme of corruption in high places. He is at times very funny —— he mentions in the preface that a drawback to fishing in the mountains of Ethiopia is that you can get killed by having cows fall on you — but the one weakness of the book is Buckokc's prose style. which is rather too journalistic to sustain such long pieces.
In the end. though. the material is strong enough to overcome the shortcomings of the writing. and I would recommend Fishing in Africa to anyone interested in a bit of
off-beat. left-field background to the l claustrophobicpatriarchalculturcof
downfall of Mengistu. (lain (irant)
POETRY ORKNEY UTTERINGS
I Selected Poems 1954—1983 George Mackay Brown (John Murray £14.95) Hailed by many as the best living Scots bard. Orcadian Mackay Brown is 70 this year. This fine commemorative volume of poems — selected by the author — repairs gaps in the poet‘s canon by recalling many verses long out of print. whilst other landmarks have been substantially revised. almost consistently to their (and the reader‘s) benefit.
Mackay Brown‘s work exhibits no radical development over the three decades; his unadulterated lyric style remains unflustered by literary fashion. His is a Hardyesque. elegiac simplicity channelled through a judicious economy ofdiction. a loving choice of natural. living images. The poems from Winter/"01d ( 1976) and Voyages ( 1983) are archetypal beauties: intimate revisitations of the history and atmosphere of the poet's island ho—e and. throughout. the subtle writing delights. A timely harvest of a much respected author‘s timeless ‘utteringsofgold'. (Paul W. Hullah)
Philip Parr reviews the recent releases.
How do publishers manage to get the quotes they need for their book covers? Take Little Bits of Baby (Paladin £5.99) by Patrick (iale. ‘Savage. satirical. often very funny" apparently gushed the Daily Mail. and one can‘t help thinking that the reviewer was sent the latest 'I'om Sharpe in the wrong cover rather than Mr (iale‘s novel.
A sense of unease and iinpermanency pervades the short stories of Robert Drewe in The Bay 0i Contented Men (Picador £5.99). writes Frances Corniord. Sci mainly in I)rewe’s native Australia with occasional forays into the Far [.iast. the stories focus on modern men threatened not only by the disintegration of their personal lives but also by the forces of nature that constantly encroach on the spaces civilisation has carved out for itself on the edges of an wild continent. 'l‘he couple ofstories that deal with minorities confronted by the intransigency of the government confirm Drewe's talent as an eloquent observer of contemporary Australian life.
A rigid society in an untamed landscape is also a theme of Mittee (Penguin £5.99) by Daphne Rooke. A bestseller in the 1950s. this example of ‘colonial gothic' centres around the love-hate relationship between a South African coloured girl. Selina. who narrates the story. and Mittee. the white girl she has grown up with and who is the focus of her envy and empathy. The book transcends its conventionally romantic plot in its portrayal of the
turn-of-tlie-century ’l‘ransvaal. in which brutality and sexuality are never far beneath the surface.
Faraway from passion under the sun. in chilly and comfortless wintertime [East (iermany lives ('laudia. heroine of (‘hristoph llein‘s masterly anti-romance The Distant Lover ( l’icador £4.99). (‘laudia is indifferent to everything in her life. The story of her affair with her next-door neighbour l ienry and of the various other relationships in her life is told with a detachment so bleak that in the end it becomes tragi-comic. Her friends and relations seem ridiculous in their emotional hopes and fears. though (‘laudia‘s invulnerability is too shaky to seem superior.
In Which of Us Two? (Penguin £6.99) (‘olin Spencer charts the love affair that he had with John 'l'asker in the 1950s using their letters to each other. Spencer aims to find out 'the truth' about why this passionate affair ended and also something about the nature of love as well. l'nfortunately other people's love letters are often meaningless to the outsider. and in this case any profundities are further obscured by the preciousness and pretentions of literary youth. However the book does provide a fascinating insight into the gay world of 50s Britain where the young Spencer could make a hobby of seducing vicars and hobnob with figures like i iarold Acton and John Betjeman on the gay network although homosexuality was still illegal and any form of \L'Xllill experimentation frowned apon.
EVENTS Glasgow I WATERSTONE'S 4.5 5H l’rinccs Square.
Buchanan Street. (Ml 3219M”,
Mon 29 '7pm. Julian Barnes w ill read and sign copiesof his new noy el. Iii/king I! ()i-erilonathan ( ‘apc. £13.99). 'I‘clephonc to rescrv e a seat and signed copy.
I EDINBURGH BOOKSHOP 57 ( ieorge Street. 235 4495.
Mon 29 bpm. Reading from and signing copicsol her new paperback 'li'm/i/ei of Helm/i! ( Penguin. £4.99 ). w ill be Barbara Trapido.
I WATERSTONE'S l 14(icoige Street. 335 3436.
Tues 30 “.3‘ Wm. Julian Barnes w ill read from. discuss and sign his new novel. Iii/king I! ()i erlJonathan (ape. £13.99). Thur8 "..‘\llpiii. (‘clebratc the launch of Scottish Short Stories 1991: The Devil and Dr Tuberose ( l larper(‘ollins. £13.99). the annual collection of fresh Scottish talent. I l3 l4 Princes Street. 550 303-1.
Sai3l 3pm. Lloyd and Delano signing session.
Wed 7 7pm. Alan Spence. poet. playwright and short story w ritcr. w ill be in tliestore tosigii copicsol his first noch ’I‘lieMugii' I‘lule. just published in Penguin paperback. He will be joined by poctand short story writer. Brian Mc('abc whose first novel I‘lii' ()i/ier .ili*( by is alsojust published in Penguin paperback priced £4.99.