BEFORE THE BREAK
Kathleen .Iarnie, whose new poetry collection, The Autonomous liegion, has just been published by Bloodaxe, and whose travel book on Pakistan, the Golden Peak, ls published by Virago, talks to Sue Wilson about starting early and keeping on going.
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‘I was born in Iienirewshire, and brought up in Currie, near Edinburgh; went to Edinburgh University. I studied philosophy, because I didn’t want to be a teacher - it was a way of burning bridges. i’rn glad I did it, but it’s a pity you can’t do refresher courses every tenyearsorso, you lustiorgetso much. I graduated 1984-85, and since then I’ve only ever been a writer, act from the odd really silly thing. I’ve been writing since way back; when I wasaweeglriielusedtowritewee stories at school and that, but it’s been mainly poetry since I was a teenager. I’ve really no idea why, I don’t query it too ntuch, I just let it be.
‘I do a bit of freelance writing but only when I have to, for money; ntainly book-reviewing, when 1 can get it. But I’ve mainly done writer-In-residence jobs - in Iidlothian lust after i graduated, In Crunbria and now I’m just finishing one at Dundee Ilnlversity. I litre doing other projects aswellasmyownwriting;it’saway of meeting people which otherwise I wouldn’t do, and I usually end up enloylng the people - there’s always somebody Interesting turns up. And you end up in a lot of different contexts - I’ve worked with dockers, and with university students, and with women with HIV; not many people have access to so many diiierent situations.
‘With the travel book, I went to Pdtistan with a bunch of friends on a mountaineering trip the first the, but pretty quickly got fed up with the climbing and wanted to be down In the glass with the people: I didn’t llre what mountaineering was doing to the cuiture,andlhadmuchmorefuna fewthonsandieetiurlherdown.8ol went back several thes utter that, and wrote the book, and I’ve a commission from Virago to do another one, so we're off to india shortly.
‘i don’t really have any concrete plans or goals as far as the writing goes - just to keep doing it until, it the the comes, i stop doing It: to have the courage to step.’
DEE. HERE Is THE NEWS
I iiard ilews Tess Stimson (Mandarin £4.99) Putting her experience as an ex- ITN producer (and as Brent [CNN] Sadler's girlfriend) to good use, Stimson has created an effective variation on the bonkbuster format, set in the high-pressure world of TV news. lt's deliciously racy stuff, focused around the on-off affair between ace reporter Christie Bradley (brave, blonde. beautiful) and war correspondent David Cameron
(fearless, drop-dead gorgeous but haunted by his past), with a lively supporting cast including a scheming bimbo newscaster, an utter-bastard executive editor and hordes of horny cameramen. Plenty of action, too, whisking between a massive train- crash, Beirut, Kosovo, Palestine and the Tory Party Conference (1). A compulsive combination of high-octane plot and regular steamy sex scenes, underpinned by a convincing behind- the-scenes portrayal of broadcast journalism and some realistic news dramas — perfect summer beach reading. (Sue Wilson)
I ilere We Go Harry Ritchie (Hamish Hamilton £14.99) Post Nick Homby’s Fever Pitch prepare yourself for the surge of ‘new lad' writing. Here We Go is a grotesquely comic slice of ironic machismo. following Ritchie’s summer trawling around the cheap and cheerful resorts of the Costa Del Sol. There's a d cent point to be made in this antidote to tedious travel writers' discoveries of
the ‘real Spain’, and Ritchie has plenty of vitriol to spill early on about the snobbish attitude we tend to adopt to the package-holiday/charter-ﬂight crowd. it‘s all the more convincing for the fact that the painfully self- deprecatory Ritchie is without doubt the right man for the job: sad, sexually inadequate, and regularly smashed out of his head from quafﬁng English beer in beachside bars called The Lamb And Flag. Essential for that Monarch Airlines ﬂight bag. (Tom Lappin)
I lucker and Tiffany Peel Out Eroica Mildmay (Serpent’s Tail £7.99) A bolshy. mouthy heroine for the 90s, Tiffany heads off to the States with photographer boyfriend Lucker, who is covering a rock-band's US tour. The resulting roller-coaster ride through Americana, as the pair follow the freeways between gigs from LA to New York and Tiffany samples new experiences from snake-chasing with a motel-keeper‘s son to clubbing with the stars, is a refreshingly different On The Road descendant, hip and slick without lapsing into clever-clever glibness.
Loathing her non-status as ‘girlfriend‘, unimpressed by backstage rock‘n‘roll antics, amazed by 70s~time-warp motels and bowled over by the country's ever-changing beauty, Tiffany is pitched between cynicism and wonderment, touchiness and tenderness towards Lucker, conﬁdence and uncertainty about what on earth she’s doing here. Told in a splintered stream- of-consciousness, it’s a funny, feisty tale, rather like Douglas Coupland but with more to chew on, including a strong, down-to-earth feminist sensibility. Intelligent, up-to-the-minute and substantial: great summer reading. (Sue Wilson)
I Black llogs ian McEwan (Picador £4.99) At the centre of this Booker- shortlisted novel is a disturbing encounter between a honeymooning couple and the eponymous canines in post-war France. recounted by the couple‘s son-in-law. This memory, canonised in family history, ﬂashes around the tale as the narrator struggles with his own parentless childhood. Behind McEwan’s piquant journalistic tone lies his customary darkness, a world which burns and spins with fear.
I Fatherhood Edited by Sean French (Virago £7.99) Sixteen literary types opine and emote about fathers and sons. ‘One great hubbub of pompous old gits and bratty young twerps,‘ said Private Eye, but French has the humour to celebrate this ‘criticism‘ on the cover. Under closer scrutiny, it is a mix of vulnerable, yet fascinating, accounts which reveal more about the authors than about fatherhood itself.
I ilats Ill The Trees Jess Mowry (Vintage £4.99) The Animals are a street gang of fourteen-year-olds in the modern hell that is Oakland, California: skate-boarding dudes who exist for beer, sounds and being cool. These interlinked short stories from the author of Way Past Cool say more about the LA Riots than any political analysis. Streetwise storytelling with an acid-sharp bite, compelling and disturbing.
I Sugar Cage Connie May Fowler (Black Swan £5.99) The USA’s Deep South; consuming love, racism, bigotry, cancer, voodoo and religion. Connie May tosses the narrative between her characters, each voicing their contribution as the story leaps compellineg on. Trouble is, they all speak in an initating little whine, but once you’ve struggled past this, it’s actually rather good: sugar burned dark and bitter in the twisting heat of the early 60s.
I Seven-Tenths: The Sea and Its Thresholds James Hamilton-Paterson (Vintage £6.99) Why go out into space when there are the great oceans still to explore? Science written with the pen ofa poet; fables and fabulous myths from the typewriter of an explorer; fantasy from the wordprocessor of a scrivener: Hamilton- Paterson’s evident fascination with the deeps proves highly infectious. (Thom Dibdin)
I Win the Complete Canongate Classics Waterstone‘s, 132 Union Street, 221 0890. Throughout June (closing date Wed 30) entry forms from branch. Competition to win all fifty titles from this popular Scottish imprint.
I Ilella Slith John Smith & Son, 57 Vincent Street. 221 7472. Sat 5. 11.30am—12.30pm. Free. The popular culinary guru will be signing copies of her new book A Summer Celebration (BBC Books £ 14.99).
I Elliilllild White John Smith & Son. 252 Byres Road, 334 2769. Tue 8, 6.30pm. Free. The renowned author of A Boy's Own Story and others will be talking about and signing copies of his ambitious new biography Genet (Chatto & Windus £25
I Advice on Children’s Books John Smith & Son, 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. Thurs 10, 7pm. Free. Talk for parents by Geraldine Sinkie of the Reading And Talking group about reading matter for ankle-biters.
I J" Byrne Waterstone's, 45/50 Princes Square, 221 9650. Thurs 17, 7pm. Free. The well-known psychic will talk about his work and sign copies of his new book The Psychic World of James Byrne (Aquarian £4.99).
I Peter hiaer Waterstone's, 128 Princes Street, 226 2666. Fri 4, lpm. Free. The (in)famous author of A Year in Provence, signing copies of his first novel Hotel Pastis (Penguin £15.99) — oddly enough, it's about a jaded advertising exec starting a new life in sunny Provence . . .
I Feminist Book Festival: Mary llaly Martin Hall, New College, The Mound (tickets from West & Wilde, 25a Dundas Street, 556 0079), Sat 5, 2pm. £4 (£2). The renowned radical feminist scholar and theologian will talk about her new autobiography Outencourse: 77te Bedazzling Voyage (Women’s Press £9.99).
I oeila Siliith Waterstone’s, 128 Princes Street, 226 2666. Sat 5, 2pm. Free. The popular culinary guru will be signing copies of her new book A Summer Celebration (BBC Books £ 14.99).
I lain crichton SIIth James Thin, 53—59 South Bridge, 556 6743. Sat 5, 7pm. Free. Launch of the venerable Scottish author/poet’s latest book, Thoughts of Murdo(Ba1nain Books £7.95), a collection of comic short stories.
I Alan Jackson, lios Brackenbnry, Anna Crown Tron Ceilidh House, Hunter Square, info 033 336491. Sun 6, 8pm. Free. Monthly ‘Shore Poets’ reading by three Scottish bards, with music from Ian Stewart and friends.
I Feminist Book Festival: Sara Paretsky and Kate Pullinger Waterstone’s, 128 Princes Street, 226 2666. Thurs 10, 6pm/7pm. Free. Appearing ﬁrst, the hugely popular American crime novelist, author of the V1. Warshawski series, reading from the last in the line Guardian Angel (Penguin £4.99), followed by Pullinger, reading from her modem-day vampire tale Where Does Kissing End ? (Serpent’s Tail £7.99).
I A.I.. Kennedy Central Library, George 1V Bridge, 225 5584. Tue 15, noon. Free. The award-winning Glasgow-based author will read from and talk about her ﬁrst novel Looking for the Possible Dance (Secker & Warburg £7.99), published earlier this year.
I Or Steve Jones Waterstone’s, I28 Princes Street, 226 2666. Thurs 17, 7pm. Free. Reading from and signing copies of his new book Language of the Genes (HarperColIins £16.99) about ‘biology, history, evolution and the future'.
I Kinky Friedman Waterstone‘s, 83 George Street, 225 3436. Thurs 17, 7.30pm. Free. The popular US crime author and country singer will be appearing with his girlfriend Rita Jo Thompson, singing some songs and reading from his latest books More Kinky Friedman and Kinky Friedman ’s Crime Club (both Faber & Faber £14.99 & £5.99).
72 The List 4—17 June 1993