I The Pine Jane Campion and Kate Pullinger (Bloomsbury £5.99) Haunted by the characters of her Oscar-laden film. Campion dedicated herself to telling their whole story. Two chapters later. another film project popped up. dammit, and she had to pass the job on to someone else. All the same. this is a more impressive novelisation than most. The story is faithfully recreated. and mixed with recollections of Ada's past life in Aberdeen of all places. However. there's no answer to the most burning Piano question. How did Sam Neill manage to cut offjust one of her fingers with such a bloody great axe? I A River Sm Gita Mehta (Minerva £5.99) First volume in a planned trilogy. this ndvel was widely acclaimed when it appeared in hardback last year. A bureaucrat retires to the banks of the Narmada. India‘s holiest river, in search of tranquility and enlightenment. Instead he encounters a series of characters. each with their own story to tell of endurance and loss. Infused with India‘s mythology. religion and music. this will appeal more to Merchant Ivory fans than to Rushdie readers. Guess who‘s bought the film rights? I Jagger Unauthoer Christopher Andersen (Pocket £6.99) Mick gets the silver-covered treatment that Andersen meted out to Madonna. For those who like their stars earthbound by the details. it’s all there the sex. the drugs. the dodgy outfits. Judging by what he got up to. much of this will be a revelation to Jumpin' Jack himself. And yet the man’s an was always in his songs. not his lifestyle. I Strange Gods John Comwell (Touchstone £5.99) A curious. rather over-written tale: a heart-of-darkness for the Catholic priesthood. Depressed by the hypocrisy of the modern Church. and tormented by his own unpleasant desire to ‘have’ women. Father Mullen - Jesuit priest agrees to join a mission in deepest Peru. There he encounters his Mistah Kurtz in the obsessive figure of Father O'Rourke, attempting to convert the Mekroti tribe by evil means. Strange forest gods and Shining Path guerillas stir events towards a gruesome conclusion. A bleak exposure of 20th century faith written from a Christian perspective. (Justin McKenzie Smith)



I Trying to Save Piggy Sneed John Irving (Black Swan £5.99) This eclectic collection of six (previously published) diverse stories and one unpublished 1986 essay. assumes the mantle of an ‘in-between-novels’ publication intriguing. but ultimately unsatisfying.

‘Weary Kingdom'. ‘Brennbar's Rant‘ and ‘Other People’s Dreams' range experimentally from vaguely didactic to deterrninedly oddball; although ‘Piggy Sneed’. ‘The Pension Grillparzer' (from Corp). and ‘lnterior Space' are distilled classic Irving.

One of Irving’s greatest strengths is his tragi-comic eye for absurd observation. Piggy Sneed’s mother ‘was a half-wit. she got hit by a car

going the wrong way round the bandstand’. The entirely irrelevant bandstand is a Dickensian touch and the enthusiastic yet long-winded essay on Great Expectations proves Irving is a great fan. Indeed they share much in common. as both have a fondness for premonitions and enjoy giving meticulous descriptions of their characters' mannerisims (eg Owen Meany‘s basketball move. Garp's unorthodox parking habits. Egg’s misguidedly prophetic maxim ‘Keep passing the open windows'). Irving says: ‘Dickens has a unique affection for his characters.‘ So too. in his novels. does Irving. although sadly. less affection is evident in these stories. (Gabe Stewart)


I Special Effects Hugh Barnes (Faber £14.99) ‘. . . the headlights of invisible cars flecked the glass skin (like ectoplasm) of Cheapside.‘ So begins this image-laded political thriller where edgy, conspiracy theorists mix with a metropolitan menage of image conscious yuppies. paranoid politicians and token weirdos.

Special Effects is a variation on the theme of the Whitehall farce. a kind of post-modemist jaunt where a whole consortium of misanthropes are thrown into a chaotic. brooding atmosphere of

distrust and double dealing. ln McNab. Hugh Barnes has created an anti-hero. a neurotic never-been who stumbles on a plot to hijack the government and becomes a hapless participant in a monetarist world filled with arms dealing and international terrorism.

Despite being packed from cover to cover with stylised oddballs and filled with razor sharp irony. the book has a leaden feel to it. Perhaps the pace is affected by the somewhat tired theme or perhaps Barnes is simply too clever for his own good and manages to obscure meaning with language. (Toni Davidson)


I Bite Morrison Thurs 28. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 132 Union Street. 221 0890. Free. The ex-Iiterary editor of The Observer is interviewed about his new biography And When Did You Last See Your Father (Penguin £5.99) by Alan Taylor. ex editor of The List.

I Frederick Forsytli Thurs 5. 12.30—l.30pm. John Smith & Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Free. The master storyteller returns with his latest punchy thriller, The Fist OfGod (Bantam Press £15.99) which he will be signing.

I Mary McDabe Thurs 5. 6.30pm for 7pm. John Smith & Son. 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. The Glaswegian writer reads and signs from her latest book. Ever Winding Time (Argyll Publishing £5.99), a modern novel set in Scotland and Europe. ranging in time from the 1960s to the 20205.

I An Evening Of Illicit love Thurs 21. 8pm. Ian Dunn’s. 30 Gayfield Square. £5 on the door (includes buffet). Fred Urquhart and Graeme Woolaston read from their own and other work in this evening to benefit West and Wilde bookshop’s fundraising campaign.

I Travel Evening Wed 27. 7pm. Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. Free. wine served. Flamingo authors sign and talk about their various travel books: Rory McLean Stalin is Nose (£5.99); Katie Hickman A Trip To The Light Fantastic (£6. 99); Charlotte Ducann and Mark Watson Reality Was The Bug That Bit Him In The Gallapagos Islands (£5.99); and Phillip Marsdon The Crossing Place: Journey Among The Armenians (£6.99).

.I Bite Morrison Thurs 28. lprn. Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. Free. The ex-literary editor of The Observer is interviewed about his new biography And When Did You Last See Your Father (Penguin £5.99) by Iain Donaldson of Edinburgh University.

I Thane Prince Thurs 28. 6pm. Waterstone’s. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. Free. wine served. Thane Prince talks about her latest cookery book The Summer Cook (Chatto £9.99).

I W” Alli The City Fri 29. 7.30-9.30pm. Fountainbridge Library. Dundee Street. Free. Members of the Pomegranate Women's Writing Group present their work with local guests. Edinburgh Fling Event.

I Oecm Fri 29. 7.30pm. The Netherbow. 43 High Street. £5 (£3). Scottish Poetry Library organised evening 2f the School Of Poets. Edinburgh Fling


I Joy Fri 29. lOpm—3am. Downstairs at The Calton. Calton Road. £3 (tbc). Not a reading. but a benefit for the West and Wilde fundraising campaign with DJs Maggi and Allan.

I Write Across Town Wed 4. 8pm. The Assembly Rooms. George Street. £2.50 (£2). Craigmont Writers present a miscellany of prose. poetry and music in a cafe atmosphere with guest speaker Stephen Mulrine. Edinburgh Fling Event. I Michael Oibdlll Thurs 5. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. Free. The noted crime writer reads from. talks about and signs his latest Aurelio Zen novel Dead lagoon (Faber and Faber £14.99) in which the Italian cop returns home to Vienna.

I Noragh Jones Thurs 5. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Noragh Jones talks about and signs her new book Power of Raven, Wisdom of Serpent (Floris £9.99) which explores Celtic women's spirituality through the rural culture handed down over generations.

I Rebel Inc light Cafe Thurs 5. 8pm—Iate. The Centre. 103 Broughton Street. 659 6336. £2 (£1). Edinburgh's radge lit mag night out with Cape novelist Alan Warner and New Age poet Rodney Relax. while Kevin Rebel Inc Williamson. and Russel Burns perform their technopoems live. MC Paul Reekie will orchestrate the soundscape.

Historical fiction writer Dorothy Dunnett, whose new novel The Unicorn Hunt is published by Michael Joseph this month, talks to Ruth Thomas about her fictional favourite.

3.5;? 3. ‘I’m all for the heroic central character I’m afraid; I'm a sucker for the hero. I suppose the single one I would really have to include in my list is Cyrano de Bergerac. He’s the best prototype of the kind of figure I admire: a complex character, not just ‘a swashbuckler’ but someone interested in other things - poetry, music, art, the psyche. Jose Ferrer played the role a few years ago, and he had a lovely musical voice. Depardieu was wonderful too - he had the right build and power and everything, but the voice is also important so you have the contrast between the terrible looks and the angelic speech.

‘I was brought up with fairy tales and mythology. My mother was very

'keen on re-written classics - King

Arthur, Alexander the Great, Robin Hood and so on. and she put me onto Alexander Dumas and the Three Musketeers. Growing older, I got into thrillers, which also centred round an extremely active figure - there was a character called Dixon Hawks who appeared in small-fonnat booklets with a single story in them. They cost about sixpence and came out every month. Hawke was a pipe-smoking chap who solved endless problems. and I was completely hooked.

‘They do tend to be male. my favourites. I’ve no objection to women but I use them in my own books mainly as characters affecting the lives of the here; we see him through their eyes. I think the central character in a historical novel has to be male because it’s the only way you can let them loose on a wide field - at battle, in court and so on. Of course there have been powerful women throughout history but they were often limited to their own country - they couldn't travel as men could. But as a girl, reading all these heroic books about men, I still identified with them; it’s wonderful to think of yourself doing all these things you can’t or don’t normally do. I think it’s much the same as girls dreaming about riding ponies or ballet dancing. it's escapism.’

The List 22 April—5 May 1994 81