I The Butcher Boy Patrick McCabe (Picador. £5.99) Teen (anti-)hero Francie Brady is one messed-up kid. A doom- laden background and a wildly tangential imagination elevate youthful mischief into screw-loose delinquency. McCabe‘s breathless and deservedly Booker- nominated monologue paints a vivid 1 picture of small-town Ireland. darkened I by black deeds and lightened by black , humour. , I The Heart Of The Vlorld Nik Cohn 3 (Vintage. £5.99) Former pop writer I I

extraordinaire he published his history

of rock 'n' roll Awopbopaloobop Alapbamboom aged 24: a later article inspired Saturday Night Fever Cohn

turns his attention to the bright lights and greasy shadows of the Great White Way. I Poets and burns. hustlers and high-rollers. all manner of (low-)Iife is here. i I Slouchlng Towards Bethlehem/T he I Vlhlte Iiilllll‘l Joan Didion (Flamingo. I £6.99) ‘Writers are always selling somebody out.‘ reckons Didion in the preface to the first of these essay collections from the 60s and 70s. The backdrop. though. is America '3 selling out of its progeny as the Dream turned sour for the nation's youth. Traversing the States‘ social/ cultural/political landscape. Didion meditates on rock. economics. murder and vice. Lucid analyses of a country at war with itself.


I lot Simply Divine Bernard Jay (Virgin. £9.99) Harris Glenn Milstead went to church. became a hairdresser. walked like a man. and chowed down on crap. A book about Divine. that cross-dressing actor- cum-Hi-NRG-diva. could hardly fail on the titillation and tacky tales front. His manager’s biography. however. is over- long and over-fussy. blanding out the bursts of outré excess that were the raisun - d'etre of this 3751b behemoth of kitsch. I The Complete Richard Allen Volume 2 Richard Allen (S&T. £6.95) A tender trilogy about the ‘fairer sex‘ - Skinhead Girls. Sorts and Knuckle Girl. C ult chronicler of 70s yoof fashion (oil). Allen demonstrates that in the skinhead vemacular ‘macho‘ is non-gender specific and that girls too could be knuckle-ready knuckleheads. Trashy. vicious. er. fun. (Craig McLean)


I Short Story Competition Entry fonns and details from John Pelan at Waterstone's. 83 George Street. Edinburgh. 225 3436. Get writing! As pan of their current new writing promotion. Waterstone‘s George Street. in association with The List. are holding an open competition for a short story of 3000 words or less. The prize is a residential writing course at the Arvon Foundation‘s new Scottish Writers‘ Centre at Moniack Mhor. near Inverness. plus publication in The List; the judges are Scotsman Literary editor Catherine Lockerbie. author Brian McCabe and the newly appointed Brownsbank Writing Fellow. James Robertson. Closing date 31 May.

I Veronika Dollna - Guitar Poetry Arches Theatre. Midland Street. 221 9736. 4pm. £4 (£2). Leading exponent of the formerly underground Russian art-form. protest poetry sung to music. now mixing songs

about contemporary Russian life into her

EMERI— cur Arrn (BLOW) nnren


’~.“ ,‘flsm \.'

".,.,}’_'*s0_ «.1 '1

m .3, . mew/y I, I t

I Shampoo Planet Douglas Coupland (Simon & Schuster. £8.99) More three— minute culture from the author of Generation X. this time located in the

crumbling mega-malls of shopping America. in a town where the critical nuclear industry's gone belly-up. where hair-care parlours and softwear boutiques are the only places left for disenchanted youth to spend its burgeoning loot.

Cynical postmodern MTV baby. Tyler. returns from a European summer fling to find his hippy-chick mother divorced. again. and heavily into his shampoo collection. It‘s hard for the 22-year-old to get his bearings on life as he grazes through designer hairstyles and junk tunage warped up to factor eleven on the FM dial in his Comfortmobile. This is post-nihilist 90s cool. with Coupland's aphorism fetish knitted into the storyline rather than touted out on the margins. lt's clever. compulsive and colourful stuff. way disposable. but it hits that cultural niche with the authenticity of a microwave milkshake. (Thom Dibdin)


I Fear Will Do it Sam Reaves (Serpent's Tail. £7.99) Cooper MacLeish. Chicago cab-driver. pool- hustler and Vietnam vet. but most of all new man a let's-talk—politics—then-go- kick-ass kinda guy finds his nice quiet existence interrupted when an old flame of his girlfriend‘s enters the picture and tries to pull a fast one with a double blackmail scam. He ends up with a .38 slug in his head. while Cooper and said girlfriend. Diane. are forced to play hide-and-seek with the

blackmailee's inept hired goons.

The result is a fast-paced. action- packed. hard-hitting novel with a few slushy touches thrown in to prove Cooper‘s caring credentials. Sadly marred by a distinctly predictable and corny denouement (Cooper and Diane escape the baddies with a large stash of loot: lots of secondary characters wind up in the morgue). it’s oddly pitched somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Mills and Boon. Enjoy it I did (sort of): recommend it I wouldn't. (Joe Lampard)


I Season of the Bainbirds Nadeem Aslam (Andre Deutsch. £12.99) A beautifully written and highly evocative book: evocative of the sights. smells and sounds of its setting. a remote Pakistani village. but also of a community so deeply religious that a glimpse of the pristine robes of the ageing cleric. Maulana Hafeez. is enough to make grown men stub out their cigarettes and even Christian women reach for their veils.

The season is the monsoon. and heavy rain clouds are as pervasive a presence as the Maulana himself. But the metaphor is more complex: even as servant girls struggle to stop the rain that gushes up through the drains seeping under doorways into their

performances. I Gerry loose Dillons. 174—176 Argyll

4 Street. 248 4814. Wed 17. 6.30pm. Free.

Launch of Loose‘s new poetry collection The Elementary Particles (Taranis Books £5.99).

I \Vaiter McCorrisken Waterstone's. 45/50 Princes Square. 221 9650. Thurs 18. 7.15pm. Free. A latter-day McGonagaIl. proudly describing himself as ‘Scotland's worst poet'. McCorrisken was recently featured on lTV's Barrymore: he will be reading from and signing copies of his two self-published books Cream of the Crop (£1.30) and More Punishing Poems (£1.99).


I Veronika Itollna - Cuitar Poetry 369 Gallery. Cowgate. 225 3013. Mon 15. 7.30pm. £4 (£2). See Glasgow.

I James Tait Black Memorial Prizegiving Waterstone's. George Street. 225 3436. Wed 17. 7.30pm. Free. Edinburgh University's annual awards ceremony for novels and biographies.

I James llelman, Tom Leonard and

kitchens. Maulana Hafeel. is struggling to preserve his flock from the outside world‘s disruptive influences. and his own faith in human nature in the face of increasingly blatant political corruption within the village.

The call of the papiha bird echoing through the novel may be a moumful one. but the emergence of a voice as assured as 25-year-old Aslam‘s is cause for celebration. (Catherine Fellows)

Guests The Centre. 103 Broughton Street.

Sat 20. 7.30pm. ‘Pre-event‘ for the

Scottish Book Fair of Radical. Black and

Third World Books. taking place in

Glasgow in early April; an evening of

: readings and chat with two of Glasgow‘s leading authors.

3 I Christine Marion Fraser James Thin.

. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Sat 20.

3.30pm. Free. Afternoon tea with the

author of King 's Close. last year‘s top

Scottish bestseller. to launch her new

' book King 's Farewell (HarperCoilins

' £14.99) and the paperback of Stranger (m Rhanna (Fontana £5.99).

I Bill Iiare Waterstone's. 128 Princes

, Street. 226 2666. Thurs 25. 7pm. Free.

Talk and slide show by the Scottish an

- critic and curator. launching his new book

Contemporary Painting in Scotland (Art

, Books lntemational £32).

I Margaret Forster Waterstone‘s.

; George Street. 225 3436. Thurs 25.

I 7.30pm. Free. Reading. signing and discussion with the author of the new.

1' eagerly awaited biography Daphne du Maurier (Chatto & Windus £17.99).


Historical novelist Christine Marion Fraser, whose King’s Close was 1992’s top Scottish bestseller and whose latest book King’s Farewell is due out this month, talks to Sue Wilson about overcoming life’s interruptions.


, mg". ,

‘l was born in 1946, brought up In Covan, we were quite a big family, very poor - though we certainly enjoyed ourselves. I had quite a tomboyish childhood, then when I was about ten I was very III, landed up in hospital for months and became disabled things changed drastically after that. I missed all my secondary schooling, really, educated myself through reading - I read everything, from Enid Blyton to the classics.

‘1 always wanted to write, right from early childhood - I remember even before I went to school I used to tell my brothers and sisters stories in bed at night. Then when I learned to write I' wrote them all down so it was something that was in me right from the beginning, but life, of course, iust kept interrupting.

‘I was housebound for quite a few years, until I was about seventeen, when I got my first wee buggy, and I got a place in what I suppose you’d term a sheltered workshop, learning to do overlocking piecing knitwear together. I went on from there to a sweatshop in Bridgeton, where I did piecework, which was terrible, you had really to be like robots to make any money. But I stuck it out for about three or four years, then I got married, ' and lived in a little farm cottage in Ilewton Mearns, had a daughter, then it was after that I started getting into writing.

‘The first book I wrote was my autobiography, Blue Above the Chimneys. My husband encouraged me to write It, I thought it wouldn’t work, and It took a while to get it anywhere. It was far too long to begin with - over a thousand pages; I just had to whittle it down and down until it was eventually accepted.

‘The sixteenth book is due out soon; at the moment I’m trying to finish a novel for a deadline at the end of March - I only started It after the flew Year - then after that I’ve to do something else. I’m always so busy writing, but I’d like to do other things as well - I love painting, but I never have enough time for it, and gardening as well, I’m trying to grow all my own bedding plants from seed this year. People say to me, what a wonderful gift you’ve got, but sometimes I feel . as If I’m getting punished for 5 something. But it’s a means to an end I love to go away on holidays, for instance - and it still gives me moments of real excitement; especially if it’s a new thing, some i new idea, I still get really carried I away with it.’

The List 12 —25 March 1993 59