I The New Statesman Laurence Marksand Maurice Gran (Andre Deutsch £7.99) Volume l of Alan B'stard‘s memoirs. comprising nine screenplays from the Yorkshire TV series. The programmes were sadly soporific and the book is tediously tiresome -— one for diehard B‘stard fans only.
I Secret Lives Patrick (iale. Francis King and Tom Wakefield (Serpent's Tail £7.99) Three highly individual stylists have each contributed a novella to this volume. all focusing on the main characters‘ darker sides. with the hidden and unknown aspects of their lives forming the theme running throughout the book. The results are hardly enlightening — maybe the authors should. in future. keeptheir secrets to themselves.
i I Worst Journeys edited by Keath Fraser
(Picador £6.99) Fxtensiv e anthology of reportage. fiction and poetry. in which an impressive selection of wordsmiths »- including lico. Theroux and (ireene '—
provide accounts of their most memorably
awful travels. adding up to a sometimes exhilarating. sometimes downright dull. but largely entertaining collection. ()ne to be left by your bedside and browsed through at leisure.
I Heaven on Wheels Firdaus Kanga (Picador £5.99) Kanga's second literary excursion brings him from his Indian homeland to travel the length and breadth ofour small island. From Liverpool to Leicester. Iidinburgh lo Bradford. the book is an immensely enjoyable.
eye-opening and often amusing account of
his travels by rail and wheelchair.
_ - I" .3 I At Your Own Risk Derek Jarman (Vintage £5.99) Being unversed in anyof Jarman’s previous written work. I had little idea of what to expect from this 'saint's testament‘. What I found wasan entrancing book which could not be put down until finished. Jarman writes with exuberant energy on a myriad of contemporary topics. constantly
‘ educating in an uncomplicated and affable
way. The book is engrossing. beautifully written and should without doubt be on cverybody"s list ofessential reading. (Joe
l Pictures at an Exhibition D.M. Thomas (Bloomsbury £15.99) Perhaps inspired by recent calls for the unearthing ofex-Nazis. Thomas‘ latest novel is a teasing mystery whose heart — the concealed identity of a war criminal — is as morally poised as it is intricately disguised. The arch plot unravels largely through transcriptions of psychotherapy sessions (his main characters being patients and/or therapists). forcing the reader. like an analyst. to piece together long-buried secrets and traumas to
reveal the subjects' hidden stories.
While Thomas's devilish subtlety demands much back-tracking detective work. the gradual unveiling is elegantly executed and frequently surprising. Taking its chapter titles and central motifs from Edward Munch's paintings. the novel is elegiac in tone. and unexpectedly ambivalent. While indicting all those implicated in the Holocaust. it seduces us with the notion of the decent Nazi. but confronts us continually with the Final Solution‘s unforgivable brutality. and the essential duplicity ofthe ex-Nazi in hiding. A dark. haunting yet entertaining read. (Andrew Burnet)
FIVE GO DOWN A HOLE
I After the Hole (iuy Burt (Black Swan £4.99) Much is made of the fact that the author of this self-conscious first novel was still at school when he wrote it. Undoubtedly an impressive attempt for one so young. it is nonetheless better suited to an adolescent than an adult audience. Five public-school sixth-formers agree to be locked into a windowless cellar for three days as an ‘experiment in real life’ (eh?) conducted by the charismatic (so we‘re told) but sinister Martyn. ()nly — surprise — he doesn’t reappear to let them out. It‘s a nasty enough scenario. but repeated scenes of increasingly fractious bickering fail to convey any effective sense of horror. Although the prose is competently put together. none of the five develop discernibly as characters. the few psychological ‘insights‘ are trite as hell and the
ending — a crude twist on the ‘it was all a dream‘ trick — only capped this reader‘s mounting irritation. (Sue Wilson)
I Raven Thomas Strittmatter (Chatto and Windus £9.99) Young Raabe (that‘s German for raven) and his pals struggle through their final days at a country boarding school and out into the real world. as they strive to come to terms with death. schnapps. each other. sex and life in general. For the innocent. unquestioning and solitary Raabe. however. it‘s mostly death.
A rites-of—passage first novel is nothing unusual. but Strittmatter's poetically simple style. effectively
conveying cruelty and beauty. shines through Ian Mitchell‘s translation and builds disturbingly empathic characters. Each short chapter (none longer than ten pages) provides a polaroid snapshot of the protagonists‘ lives. Although there is the odd ragged edge or annoying lapse in the narrative. these staccato images merge into a moving picture of innocence in the process of being lost. The novel‘s real success is in expressing its characters‘ deep feelings for each other. which they are unable to communicate between themselves. (Thom Dibdin)
I Paisley Book Fair Paisley Town 1 lall. info 887 24684—107 (i322. Wed 3--Fri 5. 10am—9pm; Sat (3. lilam-r-5pm. All events free. Four-day book bonanza for children and adults. with a packed programme of readings. talks. displays. demonstrations. exhibitions and book-stalls. Featured authors include Iain Banks. John Purser. Mairi lledderwick and Jack Webster. (‘all for full programme. I Writing Therapy Lansdowne (‘hurch Hall. Great Western Road. Kelvinbridge. info/booking 33-f lo52. Sat 6. 10am—5pm. £25 (£15); £10 deposit and weekly classes from Wed llluntil April. 7.45pm. £3(£2). Day workshop with Alistair Paterson. Larry Butler and Ruth Strauss. including .sessions on ‘Writing. Speech and
Movement' and ‘Poetry for l lealth'. Weekly classes led by Alistair Paterson.
I Great Film and Film Bookouiz Waterstone‘s. l3 Princes Street. 5563034 (entry forms from this branch only). From Mon l.closing date 3l March. Latest in the East Iind Waterstone‘s quiz. series. with prizes sponsored by Faber é: Faber. including free tickets to see John Boorman at the Filmhouse in April.
I Learn Some Latin on the Roman Wall ()ld (irindle's Bookshop. 3 Spittal Street. 229 7252. Tue 2. lunchtime. Free. Described as ‘performance art or what‘.". this is your chance to see a ‘dyslexic antiquarian. a playwright and an opportunist discuss how to cobble together a sure-fire bestseller.‘ I Minerva New Writing Evening Waterstone‘s. I28 Princes Street. 22o 2666. Wed 3. 7pm. Free. Edwin Morgan and Robert (‘rawford read from their
work to launch Minerva New Il’rirmg2 (Minerva £5.99). a selection ofrecent work by new and established writers. I Alasdair Gray and Tom Leonard The
Netherbow. High Street. 556 9579. Wed 3.
7.45pm. £2 (£1 ). The two highly regarded (ilaswegian writers read from recent and not-so-recent work.
I Book Hospital Day Old (irindle's Bookshop. 3 Spittal Street. 229 7252. Thurs 4. 10am—9pm. Free. Free first-aid for battered books. professionally administered by binder lan King.
I ILL. Kennedy, Carl Macoougal a David Dabydeen Waterstone's. 83 (ieorge Street. 225 3-136. Wed 10. 7pm. Free. Launch with reading/signing session for three new titles in Secker 6’; Warburg's paperback original imprint — Kennedy‘s
eage rly-awaited first novel Looking/or the Possible Dance (£7.99). MacDougall's The Lights Below (£8.99) and Dabydeen's
g [)f.S‘(1/)/)€(If(lll(’¢’ (£7.99).
BEFORE THE BREAK
Glaswegian novelist, short-story writer, playwright, scriptwriter, editor and writing tutor Carl MacDougall, whose latest novel, The Lights Below, is published this month, talks to Sue Wilson about his literary learning process.
‘I became a writer really without knowing it— like everybody, Ithink, who reads a lot, the idea had crossed my mind that I’d like to do this myself, but didn't know if I could; writers seemed to belong not only to another class but another generation.
‘I left school at fifteen— I was in a great hurry to leave — and did all sorts of jobs, never really settled into any kind of career. Eventually I got a job as a copy telephonist at the Daily Express which just suited me, because it gave me lots of opportunities to read.
‘Then I was plucked out of the copy room and groomed for stardom as a systems analyst. I hated it, absolutely hated it, and eventually, one day, I literally walked out. I was staring out of the window, and the girls were in their summer dresses, the guys were taking their books up to the park to read, and I just thought, “isthat it, Carl?“, and left.
‘I had no idea what I was going to do— at first I just enjoyed spending hours in libraries and art galleries, listening to music, as it I was replenishing that part of myself that had been lost. Bit by bit I started writing, without really knowing what I was doing; I pieced some stories together, and the first publisherl showed them to took them. 80 within about nine months I had a book published, and within eighteen months lbad another. Suddenly I was a professional writer, and I thought to myself, well, you’d better learn how to do this, which was why it was a good ten years before my next book came out.
‘l’ve always done other types of writing work; basically doors have opened and I've walked through them. When the second book was published, someone asked me to write for the theatre, then I was asked to write for children’s television. Around that time, having found that there was nowhere I could send my stories — all the magazines around published poetry—I founded Words magazine, really the first to publish short stories regularly, which got me involved in editing.
‘Success for me was always the fact that l was doing something I enjoyed more than I’d ever enjoyed anything in my life, though I do have this fantasy that one day I‘ll do nothing but write what I want to write. I'd love that to happen, but even if it did, I probably wouldn’t use the extra time for writing; I’d probably take up gardening or something.‘
T - i 'I'hewList 29Janu-ary— l 1 February 1993 67