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. BACKUST. BOOKS
bamboozled bv Yemenis who pack their own favourite watering-holes with friends to sway the verdict. The quality ofwriting is enjoyany high throughout the book. establishing Hansen as a narrator of real talent. (Alan Rice)
I Columbus: For God, Gold and Glory John Dyson and Peter Christopher (Hodder & Stoughton £19.95) The fact that the photographer and the writer receive equal credit. along with the book‘s huge A4 format. establish this largely uninspiring
' ’ tome as an early candidate for the
Rt. Hon. Dr.
DAVID OWEN M.P.
.7PM THURSDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER?
Dr Owen will talk about his life and i politics, and will be available to answer i questions about his new autobiography, i
(Michael Joseph £20)
°ALL WELCOME0 2
Please telephone 041 221 9650 to reserve a place and a signed copy I
Waterstone’s Booksellers 45-50 Princes Square Glasgow CI 3].\' tel (MI 221 965‘-
anniversary money-go-round — if it‘s
not the Literary (iuild‘s Book of the Month by Christmas. I‘m a Genoan. The author claims discovery of new material in the theory of a Southern route for Columbus and a subsequent historical cover-up. a case which he argues cogently enough. However. the lavish. over-sentimental photography of the replica journey made to verify these claims has the predictable effect of romanticising the voyage beyond beliefor interest. While short sections devoted to indigenous peoples provide a sop for anti-imperialists. the book is essentially a paean to the glories of Western civilisation and Columbus‘
authors at erzterstmie’sl
76 The List 27 Septcnther~ ll) ()ctober I991
heroic role in establishing its pre-eminence. Surely hindsight should have taught our race a little humility. but Dyson. a regular contributor to the smug. ethnocentric Reader's Digest. evidently doesn‘t know the meaning ofthe word. (Alan Rice)
POETRY NORTHERN LIGHT
I Sting George (iunn (Chapman £5.95) Creorge (iunn hails from what he calls the ‘anarchist landscape‘ of (‘aithness. ‘where an angel learns of gales‘. and much of his poetry is inspired by this region and its history. ‘You gave me poetry". he writes of his homeland. ‘your people in my voice like a christening.‘ Ilis work charts the exploitation of his people. their forced emigrations across the Atlantic or south to the ‘instant poverty" of fish-gutting in England or tenements in (ilasgow. (iunn himselfhas experienced the modern exile to the North Sea oilfields. and the book includes a moving elegy to the dead of Piper Alpha. The power of his work is derived from its skilful blend of tenderness and passionate political anger. moving from the lyricism of berry fields where ‘the blue sky sings the oceans down‘ to the caustic irony of a scenario where John Knox is team manager and we all ‘were relegated to the second division. for ever. amen‘. (Elizabeth Burns)
Philip Parr reviews the latest crop of paperbacks
There seems to be a theme developing. Maybe it‘s something to do with the Indian summer and young men‘s fancies turningto. . . whatever. But the publishers are certainly churning out male authors with hang-ups at the moment.
The choicest insecurity is to be found in Mark Wainwright‘s The Arms of Death (Bloomsbury £5.99). In those gloriously ambiguous press clippings that adorn book covers. Wainwright‘s tale is described as ‘James Bond plus‘. The unfortunate and distasteful fact is that the plus is an anal obsession. Ifour hero. Nate Halsey (incidentally. all of Wainwright‘s creative juices seem to have been exhausted by coming up with that name — the others are stereotypical Jack ()‘Briens and Harry Morgans). isn‘t sticking a carrot up a new (‘IA recruit‘s backside. then he‘s buggering his lusty. raven-haired girlfriend. The story ofa covert US Intelligence operation in Libya appears merely to be a hanger on which Wainwright can drape his perversions and. for an all-action adventure. very little happens (outside of the duvet at least).
Pet Shop( Methuen £5.99) by Ian Middleton skates across more familiar sexual ice: discussing. as it
does. adolescence. Or. more specifically. adolescence in New Zealand which. if Per Shop is any guide. is like adolescence anywhere else except with more desperate older women. Middleton conjures up pubescent day-dreaming with an assured authenticity which must be gleaned from personal experience. But the tale begins to fall apart when the dreams become reality and our hero. Chris. has very little trouble in persuading a variety of women to hop under the covers with him. In your dreams Mr Middleton.
Talking of pet shops. and boys of that ilk. What‘s Wrong With My Willy (Gay Men's Press £5.95) is a collection of letters that have been sent to Ray Hamble, Him magazine‘s resident doctor. The intriguing aspect of this book is not the number of activities which the correspondents come (sorry. that should be ‘cum‘ as this seems to be the only spelling used in the book) up with. but rather the speed with which one becomes bored with it all. Letter after letter sets out the problems of ‘being enormous‘ or ‘wanting it more than my lover‘. The majority of the book is one long boast from a variety ofsources. Relief is only provided by Hamble himselfbut I pity the man having to wade through so many inflated egos every week.
Kingdom Swann (Black Swan £4.99) is the tale ofa turn ofthe century pornographer. getting on for ninety and therefore able to entice innumerable women to disrobe in front of him. He does this reluctantly as he sees himselfas a great artist.
It‘s difficult to understand what kind of a book Miles Gibson was attempting to write here. There‘s by no means enough titilation to make it into a BR station smut-read and yet there‘s very little else ofsubstance either. We are simply given a probably inaccurate insight into the life ofa not especially interesting working man. The fact that there are also a profusion ofworking girls does little to alleviate the tedium.
EVENTS I GLASGOW '
I JOHN SMITH AND SON 57 Vincent Street. 2217472. ‘ Thurs 3 b.3(lpm. Julia a Derek Parkerialk about their new book. cunnineg titled I’urkers ‘ Astrology (Dorling Kindersley . £19.95).
Tue 8 ().3()pnt. Brian Blessed (once breathtaking in Hash (ionion ) w ill sign copicsof 'l'lie Turquoise Mountain —- Brian ' Blessed on Everest (Bloomsbury. £14.99). ‘anepictaleoftrueadventure‘published l to coincide with the release ofthe film (iu/u/rad oflii'eresr. IWATERSTONE'S45 5f) Princes Square ' 221 965“. Thurs 26 7—9pm. Soon to retire. SDP leader David Owen will talk (scrmonise'.’). answer questions and sign copies ofhis autobiography. Time to Declare ( Michael Joseph. £20).
Tue 8 7pm. At a launch to celebrate the publication of New Writing Scot/arid. editors Janice Galloway and Hamish Hamilton will introduce six of the authors who contributed to the compilation.