l HATS orrro LARRY

! I Laurence Olivier: A Biography Donald Spoto ( l-larperCollins £18) It's easy to take for granted a figure who has lent his name not only to a brand ofcigarettes. and to one ofthe major London theatre awards, but also to the largest space in the National Theatre. The fascination of . Donald Spoto‘s biography of Laurence Olivier —— big-screen

heart-throb. classical actor of unsurpassed critical and popular acclaim. and celebrated director of 38 plays. 6 films and 6 television shows is that Sir Larry‘s was no overnight success and certainly no

; easy ride. And happily. Spoto is far from obsequious. freely drawing attention to his subject‘s artistic and social failings. just as much as to his tremendous successes.

Spoto has a fine grasp ofOlivier's theatrical achievements. clearly explaining the plays and vividly re-creating the dramatic effects. but out of the theatre too. there is many a racy intrigue to be recounted. From a tendency to wreck aeroplanes to implied homosexual affairs with Danny Kaye and Noél Coward and heterosexual liaisons with many a supporting actress, Olivier‘s life never ceased to be dramatic. Even towards the end, after three wives and a painful skin condition. Olivier still had an eye for a younger actress. Spoto doesn’t try to make you love Olivier. rather he helps you understand him and appreciate his genius in what is a tremendously compelling volume. (Mark Fisher)


I Ratner‘s Star Don de Lillo (Vintage £6.99) Commercial exposure is coming rapidly to cult author de Lillo. This is the refreshingly unpretentious and original story of a fourteen-year-old ' boy who. having been sent to live in the company of 30 Nobel Laureates is set the task ofdeciphering transmissions believed to be from outer space. Lively. sharp stuff with significant morals. I How Was it ForYou? Peter Van Straaten (Fourth Estate £4.99) Cartoon capers under the covers taking an acutely accurate view of sex. curiously biased towards women faced with the male ego. The illustrations aren't too hot but the captions are burning. Loved the disgruntled gent asking his pride and joy. ‘And what are you going to do when you grow up?‘ I Position Of The Week Dr David [)elvin (New English Library £3.99) i More comic capers of the sexual variety but with serious undertones. E Fifty-two (count 'em) fun frolics for ll happy heterosexuals accompanied E by hilarious illustrations. apocryphal i hiStOt'iCS ()lorigin and compknc

Linstructions. Take it down the pub


and whip it out when conversation‘s flagging.

I The Best Of Times Kathleen Dayus (Virago £4.99) The fourth volume of

i charming autobiography from I Birmingham-born.88-year-old

Dayus. Memoirs of a hard. yet relatively unexceptional life are

made outstanding by a sharp eye for detail. good story-telling ability and

i a keen sense ofhumour all serving to 1 bring the past to life. (Susan



Scottish Book Fortnight (SBF) continues until 2 November, with a wealth oi readings, talks and signings by home-grown writers


I Chinese Poetry Dows‘s Bar (upstairs). Dundas Street. info 652 2462. Tue 29. 7.30pm. Open World Poetics present a reading and discussion led by RT“. Burton and Graham llarthill.

I John Mitchell John Smith and Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Thurs3l . 6.30pm. Refreshments. In the guise ofa long-suffering comprehensive school teacher. Mitchell is the author of Absolutely Chalked Off! The Further School Diaries of Morris Simpson MA (Hodder & Stoughton £4.99). He or his alter ego will be reading and signing copies. (SBF).

I Barbara Taylor Bradiord John Smith and Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Wed 6. 12.30pm. The queen of the romantic saga will be signing copies of herlatest novel Remember ( HarperCollins £14.99). I Germaine Greer Lecture Room 2. Boyd Orr Building. University Avenue. info07l 416 3100. Tue 29. 7.30pm. The renowned feminist polemicist will be talking about her new book on the menopause The Change (Hamish Hamilton £14.99).


I Alan Spence Sighthill Library. 6 Sighthill Wynd. Edinburgh. info 453 5761. Mon 28. 7pm. The author of The Magic Flute (Black Swan £5.99). a rites-of—passagc tale about four Glaswegian boys. talks and answers questions about his work. (SBF). I Bess Boss. Aonghas MacNeacail James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 5566743. Mon 28. 7pm. Refreshments. These and other contributors to A Writers" ( 'eilt'dh for Neil (iunn (Balnain Books £7.95) will be reading from this impressive tribute anthology. (SBF).

I John Mitchell James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Mon 28. 6pm. Refreshments. 1n the guise ofa long-suffering comprehensive school teacher. Mitchell is the authorof Absolutely ('halkerl Off! The Further School Diaries of Morris Simpson MA (llodder & Stoughton £4.99). He or his alter ego will be reading and signing copies. (SBF).

I Michael J. Worling Dalkeith Library. White Hart Street. Dalkeith. info 440 2210. Wed 30. 7.30pm. Wine. The launch of The liarly Rail ways of the [.othians

I Charles McKean James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Tue 29. 6pm. Refreshments. The author of Edinburgh: Portrait ofa ( 'ity (Century £15.99 h’b. £9.99 p/b) a critical and affectionate portrait of Auld Reekie through the ages. will be talking about his work and signing copies. (SBF).

I Maidie Murray ()xgangs Library. 343 ()xgangs Road North. info 445 5699. Tue 2‘). 7pm. Chic Murray‘s widow will be talking about life and laughter with the well-loved Scottish comic. following the

New Blood

Some oi the credit torthe current healthy state at Scottish writing must go to the dedicated individuals who have, overthe last nine years, siited through thousands oi manuscripts ior stories and poems to lill the annual New Writing Scotland collection. One such sitter ls novelist Janice Galloway, co-editor (with Hamish Whyte) oi NW8 9, Scream It You Want To Go Faster, which hit the streets recently. While opinions diiler on what a showcase volume oi contemporary Scottish writing should include, Galloway iirmly believes it should be a iorum ior writing which is ‘moving into new territory, trying to lind the words tor things that maybe no one’s iound beiore.’

‘0ver the last live years at NWS there’s deiinitely been a trend towards more "experimental" writing -there’s a lot more stuii coming in where people are using ideas, language, typography in diiterent ways, taking more risks, which I lind very exciting.’

Galloway hopes to see such developments eroding the reputation ior somewhat stutiy respectability which has dogged the anthology over the years, in some ways uniairly. ‘I oiten ieei that some academic “champions” oi Scottish Literature don’t really like certain aspects oi contemporary writing,’ she says. ‘They're a little uncomiortable, ior example, with the proliieration oi the word ’iuck’, they’re not quite sure ii they want their country to be represented by these stern working-class speech patterns. There’s this ideal oi the Scots moderate who can put an idea across without being too oilensive, and l ieel

that writers who maybe have a diiterent idea at what moderation is oiten get a pretty rough time. It shouldn't be a question oi “Do I approve at this as an example at my country’s literature?", the iact is that it exists, and thereiore it

IS. Galloway is also signed up tor the tenth volume in the series (NW8 9 is her second as editor) and she hopes to encourage an even greater diversity oi contributions and contributors. ‘lt’s still not representative enough, ‘she says. ‘We’re getting more writing irom women now, but it's still not 50:50, and we’re still getting hardly anything irom black orAsian writers, which is something I’d like to see changing -the bigger the catchment is, the more exciting the lucky-bag’s going to be.’ (Sue Wilson)

NW8 9 Scream li You Want To Go Faster is published by the Association ior Scottish Literary Studies at £5.95.

li you are interested in submitting work ior next year's anthology. contact Maggie Beveridge at the ASLS, c/o Dept oi English Studies, Stirling University, 0786 87759.

publication of The Chic Murray Bumper Fun Book. by Andrew Yule (Corgi £4.99). (SBF).

I Graham White and John MacPherson James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Tue 29. 7pm. Refreshments. The co-editor (with Magnus Magnusson) and main photographer for The Nature of Scotland (Canongate £19.95) will give a talk and slide show about the past. present and future of Scotland‘s unique natural heritage. (SBF).

I Stanley Robertson The Netherbow. 43-45 High Street. 5569579. Tue 29.7.30. £3.50 (£2/£1 .50) The author of Fish-[looses II (Balnain Books £6.95). talks about the the myths. magic. and malarkey of life in the Aberdeen fish trade. (SBF).

I Douglas Dunn James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Wed 30. 6pm. Refreshments. Dunn. a leading Scots poet. has delved into the country's colourful and turbulent ballad tradition. its poetry. prose. humour and history. collecting the results in Scotland: An Anthology (llarpch()llins£15.99). He will be reading from the book and signing copies. (SBF).

I Sorley MacLean 80th Birthday Celebration Queen‘s llall. Clerk Street. 668 2019. Wed 30. 7.30pm, £6 (£3.50). The elder statesman of Scottish poetry is joined by other luminaries including Norman MacCaig. Edwin Morgan. lain Crichton Smith. Douglas Dunn. Liz Lochhead. Joy

llendry and Valerie Gillies. foran evening of poetry. music and appreciation. I Jim Brumley Morningside Library. 184 Morningside Road. info 447 1180Wed 30. 8.30pm. The author ofA Highand Lonely Place (Jonathan Cape £14.99) argues for special protection for the beautiful Cairngorm region in a talk with slides. (SBF). I Leah Leneman Central Library. George lV Bridge. info 225 5584. Thurs 31 . noon. A talk and open discussion with the author of A (iuid Cause: The Women 's Suffrage Movement in Scotland (Aberdeen University Press £9.95). (SBF). I Alistair MacLeod James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Thurs 31 . 7pm. Refreshments. One of Canada's most admired writers. whose stories are collected in The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (Jonathan Cape £13.99). will talk about the links between Scottish and Canadian literature. (SBF). I Anna Blairlames Thin, 53—5950th Bridge, 556 0743. Sat2, 3.30pm. Refreshments. The author of More Tea at Miss Cranston 's (Shepheard-Walwyn £3.95) will sign copies and talk about Glasgow life in the first halfofthis century. (SBF). I Shore Poets Shore Gallery. Bernard Street. Leith. info 033 336 491. Sun 3. 8pm. Ros Brackenbury. Elizabeth Burns, Andrew Grieg and Brian Johnstone will read from their recent work.

76 The List 25 October -- 7 November 1991