I Four Scottish Journeys Andrew Eames ; (Sceptre. £6.99) Travelling through the West Highlands. from the Clyde to the Tweed. around the Western Isles and up the Eastern Seaboard. Eames describes a country which is at once fresh and comfortingly familiar. He I has an eye for detail and an ear for seemingly mundane conversation which opens a warm and contemplative window to Scotland.
compiled by Jonathon Green (Pan. £6.99) Well. blow my cookies. here‘s one for the word freaks which‘ll freak out the wowsers. Mostly good. with wide coverage of gay. rhyming. Afro-American. teen. campus and prison vemaculars. Annoyingly. words aren't listed under altemative spellings — doobie. for instance. is found only under dubee - and both cross-referencing and etymology are minimal.
I The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang i l I
I Hot and Bothered Wendy Dennis (Grafton. i £5.99) Frank discussions of taboo subjects in i Dennis' I989 article Sexual Etiquette for the l I 9905 caused such a response that she i interviewed thousands of North Americans I about their sex lives and wrote this book. It is mildly interesting. but Grafton must have a particularly prurient editor. as it‘s not that hot ' and. frankly. l‘m not too bothered.
I The llama Parlour Kathy Lctle (Picador £5.99) The latest novelette from Australia‘s queen of vitriol sees an unsuspecting Aussie win a walk-on pan in a Califomian sit-corn. I Of course she falls for the leading hunk. falls i in with a twitching ne‘er-do-well and cuts the crap in scabrous fashion. It's a bitchy. blood- letting raunch. with a high-octane plot line which peaks too soon. cruises for a while. but blows out with a roll of thunder.
liﬁllﬁ_ nor PROVEN
I Ilot Guilty David Thomas (Weidenfeld & Nicolson. £8.99) Women are not innocent victims of
men. as feminists would have you believe. but active supporters of and participants in violence. Neither are men. as a gender. guilty of inherent brutality. We are not evil fuckers and date-rapists whose masculinity binds us in a strait-jacket of violence and recursive aggression towards womankind.
To support this thesis. Thomas draws on a heady mix of false logic. sweeping generalisation. irrelevant incidents. dodgy witnesses and incoherent argument. Fascinating gobbets of information spew across the pages: non sequiturs in a dance of misinformation waltzing to the tune of a sexist mastodon.
All of which might be moderately witty. coming as it does from the wordprocessor of an ex-Punch editor. were it not for the fact that some of the issues he addresses are actually important and, despite his logic. some of what he says is true. With friends like this. the men’s movement needs no other enemies. (Thom Dibdin).
I The Blindfold Siri Hustvedt (Hodder & Stoughton. £8.99) Highly accomplished first novel by a much— touted young American author. following a talented graduate student‘s wanderings around New York. the dislocation of the urban environment mirroring her increasingly fragmented sense of identity. Chronically unsure of her place or direction in the world, lris is all too vulnerable to exploitation by a variety of parasitic characters — a recluse who wants to use her somehow
to bring back to life a woman who was murdered. a photographer friend whose disturbing picture of her seems to take on a life of its own. Latterly, she becomes obsessed by the male protagonist of a novel she is translating. taking to wandering the streets at night dressed in a man‘s suit. Hustvedt‘s spare. dispassionate writing weaves the surreal with the everyday. revealing the perilously thin line between sanity and madness. Bleak. chilling but compelling stuff. (Sue Wilson)
THE LIGHTS BELOW
I The Lights Below Carl MacDougall
(Secker and Warburg. £7.99) MacDougall's second novel is a trail
i through Glasgow's past from the : splendour and thriving industry of the
Victorian age to the squalid and
; hopeless present. where the welfare
state has rotted right through. In a city laid out like a detailed map the protaganist. Andy. who hasjust been released from prison. roams alone. Two years behind bars for a crime he did not
commit. a failed marriage and a family
life where his mother has married his
I Wouldn’t ii 30 Nice Brian Wilson with Todd Gold (Bloomsbury £9.99) Wilson invented the sound that made the Beach Boys. Unfortunately his genius came complete with an addictive personality and he was driven by a desire to be needed which spiralled into depression and paranoia. Gold has caught the intensity of it all in an easy. ﬂowing style which demands to be read. (Thom Dibdin).
father's murderer renders Andy a latter- day Hamlet.
To be or nae to be. he muses. centre
. stage. while a whole array of taxi- ? drivers. down-and-outs. criminals and
screwed-up girlfriends provide the
distinctive emotional texture of the city. f With a narrative that snaps between eras with the pace of a polka, the story
is a one of fragmented past which has to be pieced together. Unfortunately. the author seems to have glued on an
- ending with a great slab of plot tacked - on in the last twenty pages. Written
with ﬂashes of insight and vivid description. however. this novel
smoulders and occasionally ignites.
Glasgow 5 I Comic Mart City Halls. Candleriggs. info I 772 3972. noon—5pm. 50p admission. Old ' and new comics. annuals. books on SF. posters. artwork and videos. I The Sale Hypothesis Hillhead Library. 328 j Byres Road. info Robert Coontz. 248 6864. ‘ Mon IS. 7pm. Free. The Glasgow i Environmental Book Group discuss James 1 Lovelock's Gaia: A New Look A! Life on Earth. All welcome.
I Brynn Bretton Dillons. 174—176 Argyll
Street. 248 48M. Thurs 18. 10am—5pm. Free. The author of a new spoof self-help manual. How to Handle Your Man (Bretton Associates. £4.99) will be signing copies and dispensing post-Valentine‘s Day advice throughout the day.
I Book Market Hillhead Library. 328 Byres 1 Road. info 05606 349. Fri l9. noon—7pm. Sat 20. 9.30am-4pm. Admission free. Secondhand and antiquarian books. maps and prints; also valuation advice. books bought.
I Anne Prater and Aonghas Macleacall
The Netherbow. High Street. 556 9579. Wed l7. 7.45pm. £2 (£1 ). The Poetry Association of Scotland present two of Scotland's leading Gaelic poets. reading from their work in
Gaelic and English. I Terence Stamp Waterstone's. 128 Princes
Street. 226 2666. Tue 23. 7pm. Free. The actor and autobiographer will be reading from and signing copies of his first novel The Night (Orion. £14.99).
I Brian Moore Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436. Thurs 25. 7.30pm. Free. The acclaimed ln'sh writer will be reading from and signing copies of his sixteenth novel No Other Life (Bloomsbury. £l5.99).
BEFORE THE BREAK
Glasgow-born romantic novelist Ialn Blair, better known as Emma, talks to Sue Wilson about the literary sex- change that helped him on the road to bestsellerdom
‘i had a ion as a trainee lournallst
soon after I left school, with the Sunday Post, but ever since childhood I’d had a great hankering to be an actor; I wanted to be Erroll Flynn. I’d never been to a play In my life, but I found out about rep theatres, and went along to see some shows at the Glasgow cm. I applied for an ASH lob there, didn’t get It, but by that time I’d heard about drama school. So I auditioned for the BSAMB, and amazingly enough they accepted me. I was there for three years, then I applied to the 886, and lo and behold I got taken on and went down to the Aldwych.
‘So I proceeded to be an actor for the next twenty years, but like a lot of actors I spent long periods out of work. I thought I’d better do something to keep myself out of the pub, so I started writing plays, which seemed like a good second string to my bow - If you can’t get the work, create it yourself. Later on I also wrote some thrillers, but they all ended up remaindered.
‘In 1980, I met up with an editor I knew from my thriller days, who suggested I write a family saga. So I did, and my agent eventually sold It. Then a few months before publication, my editor phoned and said, “We’ve decided to change your name.” I was thinking they wanted something really big and butch, until she said, “we want to call you Emma.” I lust roared with laughter — I’d not long walked through the door having had a vasectomy.
‘Anyway, I thought, If I’m going to be writing as Emma Blair, I should actually try and write as a woman. So I used all my acting experience to think myself Into the female mind, worked very hard at It, and somehow or other I’ve created this Emma Blair character, who’s basically the other side of me - If I’d been born a woman, that’s how I’d have been.
‘Benerally people think It’s very amusing; I’ve got a nephew who takes the piss out of me, calls me llncle Emma, but at parties or whatever It’s a great topic of conversation - something a bit different from being an accountant, or a doctor or whatever. I always tell everybody I these days, In the hope that they’ll go ' out and buy a couple of books - and most of them do.’
The List 121—25 Febru‘ary-l993 67