I Best Short Stories 1994 Edited by Giles Gordon and David Hughes (William Heinernanrr £8.99) Garnered from the year‘s print media and radio. and featuring the winning entries frotn the major short story-writing competitions (including Alan Spence’s triumph in The

M acallan/Seotlund on Sunday beano). this ninth annual collection couples prose virgins with literary fatties (Weldon. Hoban. Gordimer. Okri et al). The result is a chunky. cosmopolitan volume of solid and considered work. Highly readable.

I The End of Vandalism Tom Drury I (Minerva £5.99) The fictional Grouse County in America's midwest is the setting for Drury's debut. a busy. witty study of blue-collar life originating from a series of short stories in the New Yorker. Central to the tale is the emotional tne’nage a trois between the Sheriff. his wife and her ex-husband the local petty criminal. a trio orbited by a frost of loopy locals. Addictive.

I lied Azalea Anchee Min (Gollancz £5.99) A haunting. astonishing and highly unusual autobiographical account of life under Mao and beyond. Red A :ulea charts Min‘s dogmatic education. devotion to the Red Guard. posting to a politically and emotionally soul-destroying farm. capitulation into the world of propaganda filrn and eventual escape to America and she's only 37. The facts render politicising unnecessary.

I Casino Moon Peter Blauner (Viking £9.99) Boxing and the Underworld combine in this sharp. multi-layered tale from Atlantic City. Anthony Russo wants to go straight but his family have other ideas. Their ‘help‘ forces him into supposedly legitimate boxing to make the money that will save his life. Only then do ' the skeletons and the truths of Russo‘s life begin to emerge.

I Idle Worship Edited by Chris Roberts (HarperCollins £5.99) Eleven worthies. wits and wordsrnitlrs explore the influence of popular music and pop icons on their lives. From Mark E. Smith's vitriolic. annihilative rant to Caitlin Moran's Suede fantasies. this is at once a diverse. puerile. incisive. refreshing. pointless. consistently I entertaining little oddity. (Susan


I Various Miracles Carol Shields (Fourth Estate £9.99) in these seventeen short stories this former Booker Prize nominee‘s art of story- telling is vividly displayed through ‘moments of disconnection‘ front her characters mainly women. middle- aged with fibrous skin and intricate histories. daughters. sisters. best-friends and shadowy. dependable husbands. Newly widowed women find themselves while middle-aged couples rekindle their love on European vacations.

The stories are crammed with cosmic coincidence where daily mundanities and childhood trivia are transmogrified into ‘dreamlike and discordant‘ miracles in their colourful telling. ln Collision an accident of fate brings two lonely people from opposite sides of the globe together. In an eastern European city under an umbrella. a single. rutted kilometre metamorphoses into a fleeting ‘furrow of love' for lonely couple. Martha and Malcolm. Reassuringly familiar fragments. these ‘cracker crumbs. lint-in—your-pocket. dizzy atoms‘ spiral down the page concocting anecdotes. fairy tales and histories that everyone can recognise. (Katy Lironi)


I Closing Time Joseph Heller (Simon and Schuster £14.99) Heller's sequel to his classic Cute/r 22 relies heavily on a sharp familiarity with the original. Thirty-three years later we find Yossarian suffering late-life melancholia amid the squalor of contemporary New York. Milo Minderbinder now heads the dubious M.M. Enterprises artd together with his son M.Z.. is developing the ultimate Attack Bomber. so silent and radar- proof that it doesn't exist. Meanwhile. due to his increasingly toxic flatulence.

' Chaplain Tapprnan could explode at

any moment. possibly causing the end of the world. Mtrch is made of a society wedding itr New York‘s Port Authority bus station.

Like most sequels. this is but a shadow of its predecessor. its overall themes of voyeurism and degeneration somewhat threadbare in these nihilistic 90s. The narrative favours summary over immediacy which only distances the reader. Nevertheless. the eloquent prose style is a treat for Heller fans and. as its title suggests. this book ties up the ends. (Paul Houghton)


I East, West Salman Rushdie (Jonathon Cape £9.99) With a triptych of stories each for the Orient. the Occident and the lndian Diaspora in Britain. this collection reflects much of Rushdie‘s fictional world in miniature. The familiar preoccupations of race. politics. gnosis are explored in both spheres. but with a tnild. formal contrast distinguishing each set. one from the other. Schematic rather than thematic distinction is most apparent within the Western stories where there

self-referentially. and in the Eastern there is a simplicity of style. but no concomitant dilution of the concentrated subjects. Al the Arte/ion of the Ruby Slippers Dorothy's fabled shoes and their sale are used as indices of self worth and belief. in (,‘hekov and Zulu. the hollow terminology and shallow mythic resonances offi'lar Trek are contrasted darkly with the murderous reality of Indian politics. The final and fittest story. The Courier. is emblematic of the whole collection. using elements of both worlds and melding all together to produce a

MackanlC) is greater narrational intrusion. more recognisable present. (John Caimey) m author of The Loneliness ()fT/te Long ' Mil/er Antique (Juli/es. Distance Runner alongside Patrick I John S, Gibson Thurs 29, 7pm, James McGrath. author ofS ider and Dr ' _ t ' v Ss s ' x [7 Thin. 53 5) South Brrdgc. . .6674. . The

I Castlemilk Writers Weekend A very impressive litre-up ofcontemporary writers are scheduled to appear at this second Castlernilk writers weekend. Irvine Welsh and Duncan McLean Thurs 29. 2.30pm. The Birgidale Complex. Castlemilk. 634 2603. The two authors will be kicking off the afternoon‘s proceedings with readings frotn their respective books The Acid House and Blackdelt.

William Mclllvanney Thurs 29. 7.30pm. Birgidale Complex. Castlernilk. 634 2603. The big man of Scottish letters will be reading atrd talking about his work. Joseph O’Connor and Moy McCrory Fn‘ 30. 7.30pm. Castlemilk Library. 634 2603. Winner of Tire New irish Writer Of the Year Award. he with the famous sister will be reading alongside the equally talented McCrory.

Cutting Teeth Launch Sat 1. 2.30pm. Castlemilk Community Centre. 634 2603. The launch of Scotland‘s vibrant new literary magazine that aims to provide a forum for both new and established writers with contributions from the likes of Dilys Rose. Carl MacDougall. Agnes Owens and Janette Paisley. Available from bookshops and other outlets priced £1.99.

Alan Sillitoe and Patrick McGrath Sat 1. 7.30pm. Castlemilk Library. 634 2603. A triumphant end to the weekend with the

I fag yard '5‘ Disease.

I The Collins Encylopaedia Of Scotland Thurs 29. 6pm. Dillons. 174—176 Argyle Street. 248 4814. The launch of this mighty encylopaedia that took seven years to compile with over 3.800 separate entries on every aspect of Scotland’s past. The Collins linen‘lopaedia ()_/'Seotland (Harper Collins £30).

I Charles Gore Thurs 29. 6.30pm. John Smith & Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The launch of an index that will permit fiddle enthusiasts to view the repertoire of Scottish fiddle music from the early 18th century to the turn of the 20th century. The Scottish I’iddle Music Index by Charles Gore (Arnaising Publications £30).


I James Kelman and Irvine Welsh Mon 26. 7pm—2am. £4/£2.50. The Venue. Calton Road. 557 3073. Tire Booker nominee and literary trainspotter come together for this benefit for the Unemployed Workers Centre itr Broughton Street. Also featuring DJs. food from the Peoples' Kitchen and musical entertainment from Dawson. Badgewearer and Tire Spaceheads.

I Judith Miller Mon 26. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The expert on all things antique will be on hand to talk about her aptly titled range of books published by Reed called The

author will be signing copies of his weighty biography about one of the key figures in the 1745 Rebellion. I.oe/u'el ()f The '45 (E.U.P. £12.95).

I lit Rev James A. Simpson 'I‘hut-s 29. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. Tire Moderator of the General Assembly for The Church of Scotland launches his new book All About Christmas (Gordon Wright £6.95 ).

I Dennis Cooper and Barry Graham Thurs 29. 7.30pm. Waterstone’s. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. The controversial l..A. writer is here to promote his latest title Try (Serpent's Tail £7.99) with verbal back-up from local writer Barry Graham.

I Chris Harvey Tue 4. 7.30pm. Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436. The leading academic and left-wing Scots nationalist launches his controversial account of the squandered millions of the oil industry itr his book ()i/ In .S'r'orlund (Hamish Hamilton £18.99).

I Charles Gore Wed 5. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. in conjunction with the opening of the new music dcparttnent in Thin‘s The Seoul's/r Musir' Fiddle Index (Amaising Publications £30).

I Alasdair Gray Thurs 6. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. it's always a major literary evcttt when this colourful author publishes a book. in this case the slightly sci-ft influenced The Histmjv-iiIa/rer (Canongate £13.99).


Bill Bryden, director of the epic production The Big Picnic staged at the Harland and Wolff Engine Shed, talks about what he likes to read after a hard day’s rehearsal.

I’m reading a new book about the First World War, appropriately enough. It’s by the historian Martin Gilbert and is conveniently called The First World War. I haven’t got through it yet but it’s very impressive. I thought I should read it just in case I had missed something important in The Big Picnic. It seems to me to coincide with various areas that we highlight in the play: the fact that the beginning of the war can be traced to the beginning of the 20th century, which is something Gilbert establishes quite clearly, the importance of the Women’s Movement and thirdly, it was a time when Christianity itself was being questioned. So among all the comedy and the music within The Big Picnic these things are also dealt with. Gilbert is rather a controversial author and I never really liked his work before as he is a right-wing kind of historian and his Churchill book was very controversial. But this is the

1 {best and most comprehensive thing

I’ve read about The Great War because it is a huge tome of 700 pages. Obviously in my job I read a lot of plays, screenplays and I quite like a lot of film books. After seeing Four Weddings and A Funeral I’m reading Ithat little Auden book of poetry with Hugh Grant on the cover. I’ve been enjoying that late at night after rehearsals. They’re wonderful poems and it’s a wonderful thing if a movie can turn people on to serious poetry. I do read quite a lot of fiction, but every time I read it you always think ‘Oh this could be a movie’ and if it’s not a movie then you’re wasting your time. 1 do read great fiction when I’ve got time and can settle down to a serious reading period. I love to read The Great Gatsby because it’s just so wonderfully written. Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Thomas Wolfe are all favourite authors. (Ann Donald)

The List 23 September 6 October [00.1 75