With Ilost (Gollancz £14.99). Peter James turns his hand away from the supernatural thrillers with which he‘s made his name. to a ﬁnely crafted piece of techno-horror. that crosses the scientiﬁc hot potatoes of cryonics and sentient computers with the narrative equivalent of a hardware Fatal Attraction. Once you’re on board with seat-belt fastened. James puts his foot on the plot accelerator and doesn‘t let off until he‘s past the ﬁnishing line.
Another of the year‘s best doesn’t actually fall into the normal deﬁnitions of horror. but nevertheless Scott Smith‘s A Simple Plan (Doubleday £9.99) is terrifying in its depiction ofcause and effect. A morality tale of human greed that drags its characters back to Cain and Abel basics. it tells of three men who ultimately stop at nothing in order to keep hold of the money they have discovered on a crashed plane. As the main character‘s essential goodness decays, the novel's overwhelming sense of inevitability makes this a bleak but startling debut.
One day. the world will look back and realise that Stephen King was as much a master at capturing the unease and disillusionment below much of 20th century American life as any respected literary name. His shorter works have always shown a diversity for which he is never properly credited. and with llightrnares s lireamscapes (Hodder & Stoughton £15.99), his third collection of short stories. he again demonstrates his perfect understanding of the form. Virtually every piece is exactly the right
length and complete in itself. whether it is l
Holmesian pastiche. menacing comedy. hard-boiled ﬁction or a character-driven folk tale.
Recent paperback publications worth checking out include Kim Newman‘s hugely entertaining Anno Dracula (Pocket Books £4.99) and Jonathan Aycliffe's latest chillingly restrained ghost story. The Vanishment (Harper Collins £8.99). And
to home. the reissue of Owen Dudley Edwards‘s Burke And llare (Mercat Press £9.95) uses extensive academic research on the likes of Irish immigration and the Scottish legal system to get closer to the truth about the infamous Edinburgh bodysnatchers. The author‘s fascination with Burke‘s moral descent is infectious. while his historian's approach provides ﬁnely realised industrial. medical and economic backdrops. (Alan Morrison)
1993 IN REVERSE
Llst writers offer their personal highlights
I Film The Piano.
I Live Band Christy Moore. Clan Alba, Oigc. Saw Doctors, Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra. James. Four Men And A Dog.
I LP James —- Mid. The Poozies — Chantoozies. The Rankin Family - Fare Thee Well Love. Saw Doctors - All The Way From Taam. Nanci Grifﬁth — Other Voices. Other Rooms. I Theatre Show Sleeping With You -— Starving Artists, Revolver - Emily Woof.
I M Exhibition Animator ll - Alistair Wallace at the Collective Gallery.
I TV SHOW Casualty.
I Book The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood.
I Sporting Highlight Five-day eventing at the Shetland Folk Festival.
I Festive Hans Over—indulgence.
I The Ragged Man’s Complaint James Robertson (B&W Publishing £6.99) The workers in a Scottish zoo park are as trapped as the animals they tend; a woman at work plans to improve her marriage while. at home. her husband is dialling a telephone sex line; a bookseller goes insane at his till; a young man stagnates on a croft. considering his limited options in work andlove.
Robertson's characters are ﬁlled with fear and insecurity. their lives plagued
by indecision and dashed h0pes. Ragged Man merits attention for its portrayal of life in contemporary Scotland. particularly relations between men and women. and the problems of work and unemployment. Disappointingly, though. the stories are sometimes anticlimactic. And where they‘re used as vehicles for overt political points on Scottish independence. dialogue becomes stilted and ﬁction is weighed down by argument. A lighter political touch would be more effective. and match the subtle tones that work well elsewhere in the collection. (Cathy Boylan)
I Tam Blake and'Co: The Story of the Scots in America (Canongate £14.99)
3 You‘d be forgiven for not knowing the ‘ signiﬁcance ofthe eponymous Tam
Blake. probably the ﬁrst Scot to set foot on American soil. as a ‘mercenary
_ adventurer‘ who in l540 joined a for a real-life horror tale from much closer ;.
Spanish gold-seeking expedition into Arizona and Mexico. This investigation
of the Scots‘ role in the creating the
‘new world‘ begins with this dubiously heroic character and takes a sporadically chronological slice through the birth of the white American nation.
As Hewitson admits at the outset. ‘this
'1 is neither an academic nor a genealogical work‘; instead he has
compiled. no doubt through research on
an suitably epic scale. a collection of
' co EAST
5 sketchily anecdotal glimpses of
signiﬁcant Scots. grouped thematically in broad categories - early pioneers. military campaigners. industrial. commercial. social and religious reformers of all political shades. Although at times it seems that the author is pressing some unspoken point by belabouring us with details. places
i and names. the evidence he collects is
considerable. He doesn‘t ignore the darker side of the immigrants’ contributions. most vividly their pivotal
i role in establishing the once six-
million-strong Ku Klux Klan. All in all a chaotic. intriguing book. illustrated
. with lots of superb photographs and by turns fascinating and frustrating.
impassioned and oddly neutral. (Gavin Boyter)
I Exit Into History Eva Hoffman (Heinemann £16.99) Coasting along on
. 1989's tail winds throughout her native - Poland and Eastern Europe. Hoffman
brings her razor-sharp bicultural perspective to bear on national and
. cultural flux. With the zest and . curiosity of a cub reporter. our expert
travel writer makes her observant way from from the Baltic to the Black Sea. encountering everyone from Prague‘s
} coffee-house intelligentsia to Polish
shipyard workers. By slipping into the minds and sidling through revealing snippets of conversational anecdotes. the reader is able to construct an ever- deepening portrait of glasnost society. A tempered optimism pervades the multi-layered history. politics and customs of each country Hoffman plunges into. though this evaporates in her poignant 1993 afterword. written in the light of former-Yugoslavia's horrors. One of the most enlightening and entertaining travel books this year. (Ann Donald)
3 I Rebel Inc: Invisible Insurrection Tue
1 21, 9pm—late. La Belle Angele. Hastie‘s
1 Close. info 659 6336. £6 (£4). Almost
' certainly a ﬁrst. this combination of
- reading and raving will feature
' contributions from writers Irvine Welsh. Gordon Legge and performance poets Barry Graham and Paul Reekie. plus
I sounds from Ege Bam Yasi and guest DJs
Davie and Philip from Finitribe. and last but not least visuals from Edinburgh photo-imagist Peter Ross.
I Evening Shoppers’ Treats Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. Mince pies. wine and possibly carol singing on offer for late-in-the-day browsers on the last few nights before Christmas.
I Book Sale James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743 and all Edinburgh branches. Starting after Christmas and running throughout January. with thousands of price-slashed titles on offer.
Marlike Wolsey, writer and co-editor of the three Women’s Press Christmas collections of seasonal short stories, thelatestofwhichls. . . ‘Andallappy flew Year’, talks to Sue Wilson about her best-loved fictional heroine.
‘It’s Sally Bowles from Cabaret — I think she’s a wonderful mixture of very strong and determined, and also rather misguided. What she thinks will bring her happiness is materialism, really, and yet when she’s faced with a choice of going back to England and having the baby, settling down, she realises that that’s just not her, she’s just not that sort of person, she has to be true to the kind of wild, extrovert side of her; she won’t be able to play the little housewife.
‘She has dreams - she dreams of either settling down or having lots of money, but that’s not really what she is; what she is is a very good performer, and she has to live within that world, the sort of nightclub world. And it takes a certain sort of strength to choose not to have the baby, not to go for this cushy little number in Oxford, but to stay on and be true to herself.
‘Most people, 1 think, have that conflict, they get to different points in their lives where they have to make decisions, and a lot of people take the more comfortable cosy option, even if they know they’re going to be suppressing themselves; especially with women, women who will marry somebody because it seems like a cosy option, even it it means they won’t be able then to do in their lives what they really want to do, and she
, doesn’t do that, she chooses a much harder path, in a way.
‘There are bits of her that I really relate to - obviously there are lots of bits that I don’t, but, for instance, a whole load of us used to go on holiday together down to Cornwall; I’m a real city person, but we were away in St Ives, and my brother-in-law, who’s an artist, and l were saying, “wow, we could come down here and I could write and you could paint, we could get a big house and all live together, and the kids could run about on the beach. . . ” and my husband turned round to me and said, “you’d last two months, and then you’d be like Sally Bowles, you’d be out there disgracing yourself, dancing naked in the local bar, you’d be so bored” - and he was right, I probably would.’
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