I The Gold Bug Variations Richard Powers (Abacus £7.99) An intricately woven love-story pivoting around the struggle to decipher the mysteries of DNA. exploring humanity‘s inherent. irrepressible ‘code-cracking urge‘. Though described by some critics as an intellectual masterpiece. it's a highly laborious read. in which the author's smugness vies for the title of chief irritation with his annoyingly disjointed prose style.

I Buried Dreams Tim Cahill (Fourth Estate £5.99) A rather different. at times disturbing. outing for one of the best travel writers around. Cahill spent three years collating and analysing information about America’s most prolific serial killer. John Wayne Gacy. He paints a picture of a highly intelligent. though deeply disturbed. individual. who over a period of six years brutally murdered more than thirty young men. Standing head and shoulders above most others in the true- crime genre. this carefully crafted volume will no doubt be lapped up by morbidly- minded readers.

I Complexity Roger Lewin (Phoenix £6.99) Beautifully written account of the rise of complexity. one of contemporary science's most controversial cutting-edge fields. Intelligent. highly enjoyable reading. it is a fine example of new- generation. easily accessible writing about science. bringing its mysteries into the public domain and upsetting a good many establishment boffins in the process.

I Good Bones Margaret Atwood (Virago £4.99) This literary sketchbook or pot- pourri provides a highly affable showcase for Atwood's many talents. Often savagely hilarious. it leads us on a series of literary excursions through the past. present and future. taking on board such diverse subjects as theology. ecology. Dracula and Shakespeare along the way. Perfect as a bedéitle‘companion to be sampled inbite-sige' chunks.

I Some Hope Jonathan Rix (Andre Deutsch £7.99) Ken and Simon are two youngsterswho abandon the tedium of home to travel the continent. a joumey which also takes them from boyhood to manhood. Rix‘s vernacular prose is by turns moving and hilarious as the pair encounter a myriad of colourful characters on their way through Southern Europe. at times testing their nerves and their friendship to the limits. Largely enjoyable. though not what you'd call a riveting read. (Joe Lampard).


. I Strange Pilgrims Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Jonathan Cape £14.99) A 3 new volume ofshort stories by the

grand-daddy of modern Latin-

American literature. for whose work

the now hackneyed term ‘magic realism’ was first coined. Written over

twenty years and inspired by his travels I throughout Europe. they include revamps ofjournalistic notes. a

screenplay and a TV serial. from which

Marquez. has created twelve largely

1 perfect slices of bewitching literature.

A procession ofex-Presidents. dukes

and whores cling to their superstitions. dreams and phantoms of death as they

wander in a cultural twilight world.

strikingly alien to our passionless Northern European sensibilities. The

blurring of lines between truth and fiction is maximised in stories of

, fugitive emigres selling dreams for a living. or ofthe lost poet petitioning for

his daughter’s canonisation. while carrying her intact. rose-smelling dead body around the streets of Rome. The

. MR man is still worthy ofthe title.

without a doubt. (Ann Donald)


; I The Golden Bomb edited by Malcolm " ; Green (Polygon £9.95) It is more difficult to define Expressionism as a

literary movement than it is to point to its manifestations in fine art or film.

with their tormented shadows and

crooked architecture. This collection of

German stories from the late 19th—early

20th century aims to put literary Expressionism in context. collecting

the forerunners and fellow-travellers

together with the primary texts. As such. the writing styles often blur into Dada or Surrealism. although the tales typically contain more humour than the former. and greater emotional engagement than the latter. Each story reflects the writer‘s alienation from the modem urban world. where thought processes and perceptions follow a highly personal path through Expressionism's distinctively dark and

twisted streets. (Alan Morrison)


I Mischief Ed McBain (Hodder &

. most genre writing. familiarity is one of

Stoughton £9.99) As is the case with

' the police-procedural’s main pleasures. : and McBain's latest is certainly

familiar. It is. after all. his 45th novel dealing with the detectives of the 87th

Precinct and their exploits. a series he beuan wa ' back in the 50s. ()nce auain.

the district is faced by a variety of

crimes: someone is murdering the city‘s graffiti artists. while elsewhere burdensome ageing family members are being dumped in the streets. These and half-a-dozen other plot-lines are adroitly interwoven in the fast. choppy scenes making up a narrative which purrs along in fifth gear.

lts author‘s ambitions. however.

extend beyond genre fiction. As the ; story develops. a fractured picture of the modern American city emerges.

confirming McBain as the equal of Elroy. Leonard and their like. And who can question the courage of a (37-year- old white American who has a go at

writing rap lyrics? (Teddy Jamicson)



I Black Competition Waterstone’s. I32 Union-Street. 221 0890. Entry forms from branch. closing date 14 Oct. Not the UK-wide contest in collaboration with the Sunday Times. but an exclusive quiz organised by the Union Street branch your chance to win 50 Black Swan titles. from Annistead Maupin to Joanna Trollope.

I Camber Gascolgne Waterstone‘s. 132 Union Street. 221 0890. Mon 27. 7pm. Free. To launch his new Enr‘yelupaedia of Britain (Pan MacMillan £29.95). the popular TV personality will host a special edition of University Challenge between Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities and Waterstone's staff.

I Miss Jean Lindsay James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. Mon 27. 6.30pm. Free. Launch of Miss Elizabeth B. Mitchell: The Happy Town Planner (Pentland Press £7.50). a new biography of a prime mover in the Scottish Town

and Country Planning Association. the

organisation behind Scotland‘s first ‘New Towns‘.

I Janice Galloway Central Library.

j George W Bridge. 225 5584. Tue 28.

noon. Free. The leading Glaswegian author of The 'I‘rir'k is to Keep Breathing and Blood will be reading from her j forthcoming new novel (to be published l next spring) and talking about her work. i I An Evening for Marie Curie Cancer Care James Thin. Waverley Shopping ; Centre. 557 3759. Wed 29. 7.30pm. £15. tickets from shop or from lrene MacDougall. 229 9214. Charity entertainment featuring a fashion show. ; beauty advice from The Body Shop and ' Steiners. and cookery demonstrations from former BBC Masterchef Sue Lawrence. who will be launching her new book Food With Flair (Mainstream ; £14.99). and Scottish Culinary Team members Charles Price. William Gibb and ? Michael Simpson. Ticket price includes ; drinks. finger buffet and raffle. ; I Dr Mike Stroud Queen's Hall. Clerk ; Street. 668 2019. Fri 1. 7.30pm. £5 (£4). 5 Illustrated lecture by a colleague of Sir ; Ranulph Fiennes on his recent Antarctic Expedition and author of Shadow Over Wasteland (Jonathan Cape £ 14.99).

I Edinburgh Women’s Writing Group

Women's Centre. 61a Broughton Street (basement). info 228 6579. Sun 3. 7.30—10pm. (weekly on Sunday evenings until 19 Dec). Free. Established group.

open to all women and keen to welcome

new members. meeting to write original

- prose and poetry. committed to ‘creating

work which is as good as we can make it.‘

I Women In Publishing: Scientific Editing Filrnhouse. Lothian Road. info Alison Jones 343 2050/557 4571. Thurs 4.

; 7.30pm. Free. Experienced scientific

I editors Jane Ward and Gill Haddock

' discuss the skills required for a publishing career in this specialist field.

i I Hugh Ouston, Tony McManos and Ian

_ McDonough Tron Tavern. Hunter Square.

info 033 336 491. Sun 26. 8pm. Free. First

of the Shore Poets' autumn season of 1 monthly readings. with work from three leading Scots poets and music from

Ceolbeg’s clarsach player Wendy Stewart.

I Joseph Connolly James Thin. 5349

5 South Bridge. 556 6743. Tue 28. 7pm.

Free. The author of Modern First Editions

(Little. Brown £20) will be talking about this area of book collecting. and offering Antiques Roadshow-style

I assessments/valuations of books brought

in by the audience.


Introducing a new regular column where writers talk about favourite fictional characters, Flashman’s

creator George MacDonald Fraser, who I

will be visiting Glasgow on 20 Oct to read from his new novel, The Candlemass Road (Harvill), looks back on a life-long affection for Shakespeare’s best-loved comic creation.

. "it" ‘4 5 7 ‘I would have to say Falstaff, because he’s the funniest, subtlest piece of comic creation that I know. Whether Shakespeare wrote him from an original or not, I don’t know, but he created for me not only the funniest person who ever appeared on the stage, but a very deep, complex, interesting and to me rather attractive character.

‘I would have been eleven or twelve when I first encountered him. We had, at Glasgow Academy, a very good English teacher, his name was BarradeII-Smith, but he was known as Beery, because he was a wee man with a very red fiery face - he was one of the big writers of school stories for boys of his time. He was a wonderful teacher - he didn’t teach at all, in fact, he just used to take us through plays and so on. We did Henry IV Part I, and I thought then, this is something new I think I had seen one or two Shakespeare plays, probably school productions, but this was the first time I realised that this was someone who was extra-special in the writing line - I hadn’t realised they were that good, back in the 16th century.

‘I didn’t see the play for a long, long time; I think probably the first time I saw Falstaff was on television I was overseas just after the war, so I couldn’t see Ralph Richardson playing him and that would have been a man called Frank Pettingale; the BBC did all of Shakespeare’s histories, called it An Age of Kings. The notable performance in Henry IV, actually, was the young Sean Connery as Hotspur, it was the first time I’d seen him, and he just lit up the screen.

‘I must have seen Falstaff . . . oh, often, since. I wish I had seen the late Adam Hale, the American film actor who was little John in Robin Hood he played Falstaff on the stage; I’d like to have seen Sidney Greenstreet do it, too. Orson Welles played him in a thing called Chimes At Midnight, and he was a very good Falstaff apart from one thing - he wasn’t in the least funny. I’ve never seen a performance that really satisfied me, but the character’s stayed with me ever since school I go back and read Henry IV, both parts, every couple of years or so, really just for Falstaff; it’s just a beautiful piece of work all round.’

The List 24 September—7 October 1001 73