Mary Flanagan whose new collection of short stories about delectable bad girls, The Blue Woman (Bloomsbury £14.99) is newly published, talks to Ann Donald about her favourite fictional character - the Devil.

My favourite of the moment is the Devil in The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The basis of the story is that the Devil comes with his retinue to Moscow to take up residence and causes the most incredible havoc. It’s a satire on what life was like under Stalin in the 505. I love him because although he is the Devil, he has this capacity to work great good. That is, it is a situation where the State has become so ossified and so evil that the only person who seems to be able to work any magic at all or assist anyone is the Devil himself.

There are lots of wonderful devils in literature but this one is the most original. Bulgakov has made him into a sort of jaded aristocrat who lives in a sort of squalor, surrounded by this odd retinue of cats in bow-ties and people who change forms. He doesn’t seem to be a very dangerous Devil though a certain danger flashes out from time to time and sends chills up your spine. Yet at other times he seems like an effete aristocrat with a highly developed sense of humour. He’s an egoist but very interested in other people and despite his association with evil he himself does good: that is he saves the hero and heroine of the story from certain death in one of the State Mental asylums.

He works on this combination of structure and anarchy which was very much what the Russia of that time was like. Despite his naughtiness and because of his interest in people of integrity he actually manages to save this good and great hero and heroine from death.

I love the way Bulgakov makes ostensible evil work great good. I was thinking It would be rather nice if this particular Devil turned up in London at the moment as we need him. I think the whole point Bulgakov is making In this book Is that the true evil is the State. In a country where that State has become so oppressive, the Devil is by comparison almost benevolent. The forces that are supposed to represent order have become so subverted and twisted that only the Devil can help.


I A Tongue In Yer Reid Edited by James Robertson (8 & W £6.99) A tongue in yer heid or a bee in yer bonnet? Either way this anthology of the best contemporary short stories in Scots presents a fairly diverse slice of writing. As a welcome change. the book doesn‘t place emphasis on the retrospective. nationalistic purism but rather concentrates on how the writers' language interacts with the influences of contetnporary culture. As Robertson states in the introduction. ‘narrow definitions based on ideas of pure dialect . . . do nothing to strengthen

people‘s confidence in their own way of speaking and thinking.‘

As with all anthologies. the quality does waver. but not significantly and there are some real gems included. Irvine Welsh‘s A Soft Touch puts much more than a tongue in yer heid. while Brent Hodgson‘s surreal and often very funny Interview With King Lear, epitomises the book's attempt to veer away from twee expectations.

Something for (nearly) everyone is a blasc’ way of recommending a book but Robertson has made a fair stab at representing and celebrating the rich diversity and accessibility of contemporary Scots' writing. (Toni Davidson)


I Art and Lies Jeanette Winterson (Cape £14.99) The literary world seems to be split in two: those who revere Winterson as a god—like genius and those who believe she is consumed by an arrogance that is fast leading her up her own bodily orifice. Her latest novel confirms both schools of thought.

To even vaguely grasp this novel the reader must treat this as an ‘Artistic Entity‘ thus dispensing with such commonplace expectations as a plot. Instead. we have Picasso. Sappho and Handel. the three voices through whom Winterson composes her dizzy and poetic symphony that explores such Big themes as: the quest for truth. Spirit v Flesh. and Art v Popular Culture.

Less we tire of Winterson's intermittent and highly personalised diatribcs against a late 20th century consumerist. homophobic. shell-suited society. it is important to remember she is one of that rare breed who possesses

not only an excellent wit but can reduce the reader to a spinning stupor in her gorgeous dissections of the heart.

Essentially a beautiful and dazzling indulgence. (Ann Donald)


I Dueer In America Michelangelo Signorile (Abacus £6.99) Outing the disclosure of closeted public figures’ sexual orientation has split opinion in both the gay and straight media alike. Originating within the US gay movement of the late l980s. revelations about the ex—Iives of politicians, film and rock stars also surfaced in the UK. A prime example was The Sun in 1989 picking up on an Absolutely Queer poster of Jodie Foster and running a ‘manhater‘ story on her. The first of many backlashes frotn gay and

straight quarters began.

Signorile. described by queer writer Gary Indiana. as ‘an infant crapping in his nappies'. has stirred up such ill feeling in some quarters that much of the book comes across as a defence of his actions and beliefs. It's a fascinating read however. absorbing in its strange combination of bitchy politicking and investigative joumalism.

Ultimately the issue has outgrown any one activist's zeal. Hopefully this book will be read by lesbians and gays in the closet and help them to come to terms with their reasons for remaining hidden. (Toni Davidson)


I Ego Tim Geary (Coronet £5.99) Pure beach power in this chunky summer page turner which steps lightly through the world of the male model. caressing his adequately developed chest with a reasonable plot involving the hunt for a new male supermodel. Lots of sex. of the rumpy rather than pumpy variety. but not much balls.

I The Infinite Plan Isabel Allende (Flamingo £5.99) A thoughtful and convincing novel about the son of an impoverished itinerant preacher man from the author of The House of the Spirits. This well orchestrated novel slips smoothly from road to barrio to war to boardroom. speaking with a happily frothy mix of voices that paint a vivid landscape.

I The Ice Storm Rick Moody (Abacus £9.99) Seventies retro identity crisis for yet another dysfunctioning American family. This tilts along with dark and sharp comedic observations on such important issues as male masturbation over female underwear and wife- swapping while Nixon’s impeachment plays in the background. Well observed. promiscuoust defiant. but who'd be art American?


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I During Mother’s Absence Michele Roberts (Virago £5.99) Deep. sensual short stories of European provenance that hold your breath in their charm while you dare them to resolve happily ever after. Perhaps they do. but the delight of their delivery is that they quite equally might not. Read before sleep and dream disturbing. forbidden and perfectly described dreams.

I End Time G.A. Matiasz (AK Press £5.95) Anarchic futuristic political thriller with anti-war activists getting their hands on a box of weapons grade plutonium in California 2007. It is naively optimistic at times. but who cares when the politics is this hedonistic and the story exploits developments in every subversive field from drugs to computers to music to left- wing demonstrations. (Thom Dibdin)


John Smith & Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The novelist will be signing copies of her latest paperback title A Spanish Lover (Black Swan £5.99).

I BIII Bryson Wed 6. 6.30pm. John Smith & Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The side~splittingly funny and perceptive author of two of the most popular travel titles will be reading and signing copies of his latest book. Made In America (Seeker & Warburg £15), replete with jazz band

and Budweiser beer. See feature.

I Rosemary long Wed 6. 7pm. Waterstone's, Princes Square, 221 9650. The Herald columnist will be chatting about her second book about life in the Gambia. Together Under The Baobab Tree (Eric Dobby £12.99).

I Uncharted Seas Mon 1 1. 7.30pm. College Club. Glasgow University. Bronislaw Maj. Katarzyna Borun and Grzegorz Musial. Three of Poland’s most exciting young poets read from their work‘ in English. Introduced by their translator Donald Pin'e.


I Joanna Trollope Mon 4. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. A reading and signing from the English novelist of her latest paperback title. A Spanish Lover (Black Swan £5.99).

I Robert Louis Stevenson Mon 4. 8pm. £6/£4. Assembly Rooms. A Scottish Poetry Library event with Stevenson's poems and songs read by Gerda

Stevenson and John Fleming.

‘I Bill Bryson Tue 5. 7.30pm. Walpole Hall. Chester Street. £2. Details and tickets from Waterstone's. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. Budweiser. jazz and in between a reading from the author. His latest book looks at the impact the American language and culture has made on the rest of the world Made In America (Seeker & Warburg £15).

I Rebel lnc Thurs 7. 8.30pm—late. Unemployed Workers Centre. 103 Broughton Street. 557 07l8. £2/£l. The launch of issue number five with performance and readings from Irvine Welsh. Toni Davidson and Sandie Craigie. Please note that due to the World Cup semi-final this date may change. Phone beforehand.

I Environmental Book Group Mon I 1. 7.30pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Is eco-feminism the way forward? The environmental book group discuss this and other ideas raised by the philosopher. physicist and feminist Vandana Shiva.

82 The List l—l4 July 1994