I It‘s All Overflow Mandy Smith (Blake £4.99) Thicker than the average 24-year- old‘s autobiography. this works out at ﬁfteen pages per year of Mandy‘s fuller than average life. Kelvin MacKenzie gets a mention in the dedication. (squeezed between ‘the Dear Lord God above' and "The Sun newspaper' ). so it's hardly surprising that the book reads like one long Sun story. Once you get over the constant cliches. the book's appeal lies in the voyeurism of reading between the bitter lines.
I The Bank Of Time George Friel (Polygon £8.95) This quality reprint of l‘riel‘s ﬁrst novel shows him to be in a league of his own. A Glasgow lad's attempts at self-improvement out of the tenements arouse sympathy. yet avoid wallowing in nostalgia. in a style that is crisp. clear and remarkably undated.
I Monster Sanyika Shakur (Pan £4.99) This readable straight-from-the-gut autobiography shows a frightening vision of gang life on the streets of l.os Angeles. This is the place where eleven-year-olds pump sawn-off shotguns into each other and homeboys are in South Central gunﬁghts on a daily basis. Brutal. disturbing yet essentially compelling.
I Misreadings Umberto Eco (Picador £5.99) This avenging angel collection of classic Eco pastiches should cheer up budding authors depressed by their capacity to wallpaper not only their toilet. but their entire ﬂat with publishers' rejection slips. The series of readers' reports damning the great and good among the classics — Kafka‘s The Trial ‘needs more facts and clariﬁcation‘ — is exquisite. (Gabe Stewart)
W LOVELESS BABE
I love, love, Love Sandra Bernhard (Flamingo £5.99) Bernhard‘s caustic wit and self obsession. which ﬁres ballistic-like from her generous mouth on stage. falls wide of the target when transferred to the page in this sad little book.
This intimate confessional is
; humourless without focus. and at times. frankly embarrassing. Someone should inform the divine Sandra the best erotic ' writing is glimpsed through a veil. not
pushed in your face. When she does move from putting herself in the middle of everything. the collection improves a little. The more obvious ﬁctional passages are written in a tight economical style and her reminiscences of fartiin and childhood evoke some powerful imagery.
A great deal less self-indulgence on her part and that of her editors and this might not have been such a let down. (Maggie Lennon)
A SINISTER CHILL
I The Unloved Deborah Levy
(Jonathon Cape £13.99) Gather any set 1 of friends and acquaintances under one
roof for long enough and you have a potentially explosive. certainly bitchy mix. btit Levy sees something
altogether more sinister in such a
The book is far frotn your average Miss Marple murder mystery but it has
: many ofthe ingredients for a successful
suspense. With dispassionate venom. the story charts the mostly unhappy lives and lifestyles of friends preoccupied with tense personal histories. while the relationships are teased skillfully out into the open. Characters such as the children Titania and Claudine see a world of dissatisﬁed
the perverse offspring of
; middle class disaffection.
The UIIIOl'é’d could be a marvellous ﬁlm. a cross between The Big Chill and Drowning By Numbers. There is a
2 moody ambivalence about the book. ' with levy utilising dramatised dialogue
to further abstract the experiences and emotions of her odd bunch of characters. (Toni Davidson)
ART AND LIES
i I Come And Tell Me Some Lies
Raffaella Barker (Hamish llatnilton
‘ £14.99) First novels are usually bulky . affairs. but not this one. in fact. it's hardly a novel at all. more a series of
autobiographical sketches about the pleasures and pains of growing tip in an
i eccentric extended family.
Small wonder when your father is the
poet George and your mother the writer Elspeth. But amid the chaos of their lives. Gabriella (ie Raffaella). longs for
normality. After all. Mum wears a wig
to dodge the police while driving about Norfolk without a licence and Dad. weaned from whisky. still gets drunk
on Saturdays. Only after moving to London does Gabriella discover herself
to be a real person.
This is a wry and affectionate portrait of an unusual family. but one that only hints at the real nature ofthe relationships it describes. And. for all the raniness of its main protagonist the rest of the characters remain wooden. Never mind the lies. just give us more.
I Jack McLean Thurs 28. 6.30pm. John Smith & Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The Herald columnist will be reading and signing from his latest batch of sardonic sporting missives collected in Sporting Urban Voltaire (Neil Wilson £9.99).
I Paul Bailey Thurs 21. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. The once Booker shortlisted author will be reading and signing from his ﬁrst book in ten years — a ‘bizzare‘ and ‘sensitive‘
tale called Sugar Cane (Penguin £4.99).
I Hoddy Sat 23. lpm. Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436. A special guest appearance from that childhood icon. in town to promote his show at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.
I Joanna McDonald Mon 25. 7pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The launch of the BBC Scotland presenter‘s ﬁctional account of life running a health- theme hotel on a remote Scottish island. Islam] Games (Headline £5.99).
I Andy Coldsworthy Wed 27. 7.30pm. Royal Botanics Lecture Room. Tickets are £3/£2 from Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436. The talented Borders- based sculptor gives a slide-show and talk on the work from his beautiful book. Stone (Viking £35).
I Robert Louis Stevenson Tue 19.
8.30pm. Colinton Library. 44] 30-40. A talk by Owen Dudley Edwards on Stevenson: the ﬁrst Treasure Island.
I Stevenson and the Edinburgh landscape Wed 20. 12.30pm. Central Library. Conference Room. An illustrated talk by Jim Crumley.
I Stevenson: Kidnapped and Oueensferry Tue 26. 7pm. Hawes Inn. Newhalls Road. South Queensferry. 331 1697. A talk by Owen Dudley Edwards.
I Stevenson and The South Seas Wed 27. 12.30pm. Central Library. Conference Room. An illustrated talk by Jenni Calder. I Stevenson’s Storytelling Wed 27. 2.30pm. Oxgangs Library. 445 5699. David Campbell of Traditional Scottish Storytelling tells stories from RLS.
Freelance journalist and Cornlc Relief documentary maker Helen Fielding selects her favourite fictional characters. Her first novel, Cause Celeb, which is published this month, is an alternately hilarious and heartbreaking exploration of the uncomfortably symbiotic relationship between the rich and famous and the Third World.
‘My favourite fictional characters come from Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd. They are Bathsheba Everdene, Gabriel Oak and Sergeant Troy. I think that Hardy brilliantly understood women and the lure of the bastard who distracts them from the more sensible choice of man. The guy Bathsheba should marry is Oaks, who is understanding and caring, but then Troy comes along and impresses her with his demonstrations of swordwork - the flashing blades, the power, the danger and sexual tremors coming from every angle. Bathsheba, as any normal woman would, goes for the bastard but ends up with Oaks in the end.
‘I just think that’s such a universal story of women and men that it’s absolutely brilliant. There isn’t one woman you speak to who doesn’t understand this eternal problem. Bathsheba is beautiful like all of Hardy’s women, but she’s as silly as all women are, which isn’t really silly but just normal in these situations of love. She is beautiful and susceptible to beauty in others. She’s also an intelligent and independent women trying to run a farm which appeals to me very much. Even though this Is 100 years ago she’s still coping with all the things that women today handle: trying to juggle jobs and love and being a woman but being in a position of authority as well.
‘Hardy was using the classical fictional beauty in all his books but at the same time managed to be interesting about them. Even though he was a man they weren’t just objects to him. He understands all the complications and learning processes which they go through.’
(Helen Fielding spoke to Ann Ooneid. Cause Celeb is published by Picador at £9.99.)
The List l5—28 Julv I994 77