it ‘i . \‘ .. I Ilo Forwarding Address Elisabeth
Bowers (Virago. £5.99) Unfiashy. absorbing feminist murder-mystery. in which middle-aged Canadian sleuth Meg Lacey sets out on the trail of a mentally unstable fugitive wife who is later found beaten to death. the murder trail eventually exposing the horrors that can fester behind bourgeois respectability. Characters are realised in painstaking
detail and the plot is a model of thoughtful ;
construction - great bedtime reading.
I For Beginners Series - Pan Africanlsm Sid Lemelle. African History Herb Boyd. Miles Davis. Daryl Long. Black History Denise Dennis. Malcolm X Bernard Doctor Aquina (all Writers and Readers. £4.95—£6.99) Latest batch in the popular comic-documentary series. introducing the neglected history of the African diaspora and the life-stories of two latter- day Black icons. The beauty of these books is that while the cartoon-ster layout lends immediate clarity and accessibility. they never patronise or over- simplify. whether in the impressive depth of factual information they contain or in the often opinionated case each sets out. Recommended.
I Some Of Us Are Very Bad (Perseverance Writer's Club. available from Edinburgh
bookshops or by post e/o l3. Dundonald Street. Edinburgh. FLH3 6R2. £3.50) The fifth publication by an Iidinburgh creative- writing group finds them in sombre mood — child abuse. domestic violence. AIDS. terrorism. sinister scientists and -- more than once - murder all stalk through these fifteen short tales - signs of the times‘.’ Though much of the writing could use some kind-but-Iirm editing. many contributors reveal a keen grasp of plot. character and dialogue. More than a touch of promise here.
I Small Times Russell (‘elyn Jones (Penguin. £5.99) Tough. tangy. tautly- observed portrait of the London hustle as seen through the eyes of a sharp-suited pickpocket. a man ‘in hard pursuit of modem goals' who falls in love with a successful actress. The novel asks searching questions about contemporary Britain - who are the real crooks'.’ who's really playing a part‘.’ - with rare. gritty vigour. (Sue Wilson)
BEETL— Auo THE BAND new on
I Across The Great Divide: The Band and America Barney Hoskyns (Viking. £16.99) As befits a band. The Band. whose epitaph was Martin Scorsese's all-star concert movie The Last Waltz. so Across The Great Divide is a mighty and thorough chronicle: not just of The
Bands rise and self-inflicted fall. but of
the changing face of American music itself.
Born after a decade's touring as other people's musicians (most notably backing Dylan). The Band were a
panoramic meeting-point for the musical arteries that criss-crossed America's heart. Country. blues and soul — an aural melting-pot encapsulating this 60s-into-70s pivotal point of rock.
Former NMEjoumo Hoskyns does such vibrant source material a fine service. Extensive interviews with all the major players. diligent charting of Band minutiae. plus perceptive analyses of the contexts and consequences of The Bands every move combine to create a book as worthy and edifying as the music itself. And that. surely. should be the point of all band biographies. (Craig McLean)
CULTURE VULTURES? . ~ .1; ";
I Culture 8. Imperialism Edward W. Said (Chatto & Windus. £20) A Jerusalem-born Palestinian exile. long since resident in America where he is currently professor of Flnglish and comparative literature at New York‘s Columbia University. Said is unquestionably one of the world‘s leading analysts of history. politics. literature and culture. His latest book sets out to expose the influence of the imperialist impulse in shaping Western thought and an. focusing on British. French and American writers in the 19th and 2()th centuries. Systematically dissecting several specific works to
reveal the inherent hypocrisy in much of the writing. he ranges through Dickens. Jane Austen and Verdi to media coverage of the Gulf War. contrasting such texts with works by revolutionary writers like C.l..R. James. Yeats and Rushdie.
His analysis is indeed eye-opening. showing how Conrad. for example. in Heart o/'1)arkness. clearly saw Africa‘s imperialist legacy ofexploitation and cultural destruction. yet nevertheless presented Africans as inferior and uneducated. This view is compared to Camus's portrayal of the oppressed Algerian people. relegated to mere background behind the (French) heroes through which the themes of his work are played out.
It's a big book in both size and scope. and can be heavy going. but in these days of American cultural dominance and the ‘New World ()rder‘ its insights are both enlightening and profound. Studded with gems of intellectual perception. it is both a comprehensive exploration of its subject and a visionary masterpiece for our time. (Joe Lampard)
GOD SLOT I A History Of God Karen Armstrong (William Heinemann. £16.99) Forget serial killers. here‘s the history of the man who coined the verb to decimate. Yes. it‘s the Big (3. who emerged from the pantheon of gods sometime in the twentieth century BC. when He revealed Himself to Abraham as El. and created Judaism. But who was this lil. Yahweh. God. Allah geezer. and has He got a future‘.’
Armstrong argues He has changed to reflect people’s changing needs according to their particular time and
situation. She brings forward a fascinating array of reports to support this. encompassing 4000 years of monotheism and including the Jewish. Christian and Islamic faiths. Armstrong was a Roman Catholic nun for seven years. so her interest in the subject is more than academic. ()nly fundamentalists. who she regards as idolatrous. will find much to argue with. Glib she is not. and this is a suitably serious account which manages not to become too dry. (Thom Dibdin)
Glasgow I Great Film and Film Book Ouiz
Waterstone‘s. 13 Princes Street. 556 3034.
Closing date 15 Mar. Still a couple of weeks to get your entry forms in. competing for prizes sponsored by Faber
& Faber. including free tickets to see John I
Boorman at the Filmhouse in April.
I Armistead Maupin John Smith & Son. 57 Vincent Street. 221 7472. Mon 8. 6.30pm. Free. The hugely popular Californian author reading from and
signing copies of his first non-Tales of the A
City novel. Maybe The Moon (Bantam £14.99).
James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556
I A.L. Kennedy and Carl Macoougall I
6743. Tue 2. 7pm. Free. Another chance to hear the work of Seeker‘s two latest Scottish signings — Kennedy‘s stunning first novel Looking for the Possible Dance and MacDougaIl‘s second. The Lights Below (both Seeker & Warburg. £7.99). I Helena florberg-Ilodge Appleton Tower. University of Iidnburgh. Crighton Street. info 229 9687. Thur 4. 6.30pm. Free. The author of Ancient Futures (Rider. £8.99). about the people and culture of Ladakh (‘little Tibet'). in the Himalayas. and the socio-ecologieal damage caused by tourism and ‘development'. will talk about her work. I Tom Leonard, Ian Mcoonough and Fiona Mcoougall West End Hotel. Palmerston Place. 225 3656. Fri 5. 8pm. £1 (50p). Return of the Edinburgh Writers' Association monthly 'First Friday: Poems and Pints‘ session. the guest list headed by one of Glasgow‘s best-loved poets. plus open slots for
I Armistead Maupin Waterstone‘s. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. Tue 9. 7pm. Free. The hugely popular Californian author reading from and signing copies of his first non-Tales oft/1e ('itv novel. Maybe The Moon (Bantam. £14.99).
I Esther Freud and Ilussell Celyn Jones Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436. Thur l 1. 7.30pm. Free. Latest in the West End branch's new writing promotion programme features the author of last year's highly-praised Hideous Kinky (Penguin. £5.99) reading from and talking about her second novel Peerless Hats (Hamish Hamilton. £14.99). plus the man behind last year's equally-acclaimed. though very different. Small Times (Penguin. £5.99). who has recently been appointed writer-in-residence for Malcolm Bradbury's UF.A creative writing course and may well be offering advice for aspiring scribes.
“if/fife: - yup”. '-. [/I'Eii'c'frjh‘Z-l‘; 1 ‘Initially I wanted to paint, I went to Glasgow School of Art, but I expected that I’d teach, so did teacher-training after college then got a job in Glasgow, which was a bit of a shock, real life and all that. I never really enjoyed teaching — I liked doing it part-time, but it’s knackering, and art departments get dumped with a lot of dross - not the kids, but the things you have to do. They used to invent these inter-departmental courses called things like “The Horne”, and in art you were supposed to teach them about things like interior decoration. ‘I started to write poems when I was
for anything, nobody wanted them, I just really liked doing it. I went along to Philip Hobsbaum’s writing class
poet would think I was a poet, and he
did like them, got them published in a
magazine. Then in 1972 my first very
slim volume came out; I was doing a
reading one night and this publisher
was in the audience, he asked to see my stuff and decided to bring it out. lie also flogged them like mad, sold about 5000 copies, which was amazing.
‘My big break was when I got a writer-in-residence exchange job in Canada, in 1978. That was great - l was thirty then, and a long-term : relationship had iust broken up, I was feeling stuck with the cat and the mortgage and the teaching, so it was brilliant, I went away for a year and everything changed. It coincided with the time that I was just starting to write drama, so I wrote the first draft : of my first play during that year. When ' I came back I got a writer-in-
. residence job at Dundee Art College for a year, then I’ve had a couple of other residency jobs, and since then I’ve just been kind of struggling by with readings and stuff.
‘At the moment I’m working on a play for the 080, which is very overdue - I kept taking on other stuff that had
tighter deadlines. Also, it’s difficult
because I find I have to go up a lot of
blind alleys to see what I might want to write. When you start off to write, though you maybe throw away draft after draft, you don’t realise as you’re writing them how dire they are or that you’re going to throw them away.
Whereas later on you do know about
that stage of the process, and you’ve
BEFORE THE BREAK ‘
Poet and playwright Liz Lochhead, whose The Big Picture is just finishing its run at the Brunton Theatre, talks to Sue Wilson about her move from the visual through the pedagogic to the literary arts.
in my third year at art school. It wasn’t
after I left college, just to see if a real
, got to keep yourself going through this I
I turgid point, I think that gets harder.’ '
The List 26 February—l 1 March 1993 59