V UNDER THE COVERS
lead singer with Love and Money James Grant talks about the book that changed his life: Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. Love and Money play their HIP concert at The Barrowland, Glasgow on 23 December.
‘I read it when I was eighteen years old and it had a huge effect on my life. It changed the way I thought about literature, art, life as a whole. It really did have a profound effect on me. I was really shocked. It was like — I need a pint. After I’d finished it I was really, really shaken. I just didn’t realise the effect books could have on you. ‘At that point in my life I was just into having a good time all the time. I was just touring, playing the guitar and everything was very pleasure- orientated as far as l was concerned. And then this came along and really shook me up, which was I think very necessary.
‘It was a terrifying read. There’s a really quivering nightmare section where one nightmare just segues into another. Before Crime and Punishment, I’d just been reading Spike Milligan, John Irving and Raymond Chandler. I think I started reading It because Chris (Thompson from the Bathers) and I were in a band together called Friends Again and he was reading something by Turgenev, so I was just trying to compete with him I think. It was either Crime and Punishment or Tolstoy and he was just too much.
‘The Idiot by Dostoevsky is another fantastic novel that made a big impression on me. He’d gone to a Hungarian museum and saw this picture of Christ on the wall which he’d stood in front of completely transfixed, unable to speak for half an hour. Then he went home and wrote The Idiot.
‘Dostoevsky was also an epileptic so there are these very, very lucid descriptions of epileptic fits in The Idiot which are quite terrifying. It’s not a book for the paranoid, so it’s probably not that good that I was reading it.’ (Ann Donald)
I Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 Hunter S. Thompson (Flamingo £6.99) You might not understand all the quirks of the political situation. but the main man ofGonzo joumalism’s account of the US Presidential campaign is still a rollercoaster read of the breathtaking kind. Covering the event for Rolling Stone dressed in old Levi's and a ski jacket, Thompson gives the cock-eyed view of the whole shaboom from his own boozy and cynical. verging on hysterical, perspective.
From being barred from a dinner celebrating the official opening of the new McGovern HQ because of his attire. to talking football with Nixon on his Greyhound campaign bus. this sharnbolic narrative is detailed with all the grainy. gritty reportage of a video diary.
Occasionally Thompson writes in trainspotting detail but by far the most enjoyable bits are his encounters with the hitchhikers. the waifs and the strays who drift across America while he drives maniacally. bourbon in hand. to the next town to cover an election most of them won‘t bother to vote in. (Beatrice Colin)
BOOEY ANO BACALI.
I NOW Lauren Bacall (Century £16.99) Here is a woman who is the perfect role model: strong-willed. glamorous and successful in both her public and private lives.
In this. the second volume of her autobiography. Bacall contemplates the last ﬁfteen years of her hectic life with feisty wit and candid honesty. In her introduction she pays tribute (as she does subtly throughout the book) to her late husband Humphery Bogart, when she touchingly conﬁdes that ’the core of Bogey resides in me‘.
Categorised into chapters like ‘Work‘. ‘Children'. ‘Acting' and ‘Friendship anti Loss‘. the constants of stimulating. rewarding work and her obvious passion for her three children filter onto every page and aspect of her life. They are indeed her ‘reason to get tip in the moming‘.
This is not the star-studded tale of a Hollywood icon. but an account of an inspiring. satisfying and occasionally hard and lonely life. which leaves you with the overriding impression of an ordinary woman struggling with the same fears and insecurities that beset us all. (Katy Lironi)
I The Thought Gang Tibor Fischer (Polygon £8.99) Following on from his Booker-shortlisted first novel Under The Frog. Fischer returns with a fast- paced, off-beat thriller.
On the run from both the law and insipid academia. the less than heroic dropout philosopher Eddie Coffin escapes to France and teams up with Hubert — a one-armed. armed robber. Together they make a dangerously incompetent team. This is not just an odd couple. but a seriously deranged partnership heading towards mayhem and the bank robber hall of fame.
Although crammed with swipes at pertinent political themes. the novel is
a ,7 really an amoral rant filled with gritty scenes, obscene characters and lewd sexual descriptions. It's a zany novel with depth and a fresh. almost conversational prose style that gives you the creeping impression that you havejust hitched a lift with one hell of an imagination. (Toni Davidson)
WORLD CUP LOSER
I Dancing In The Streets Don Watson (Gollancz £9.99) Pardon the neologism. but this socurnentary makes for painful and dull reading. The pain mainly lies in the weak central metaphor of World Cup City, a metaphysical community set apart from the everyday concerns of the host nation America. Watson decides that the World Cup City exists before the competition commences and marshals a cast of characters worthy of
a Russian epic to demonstrate its existence. This is where the pain mainly resides. A written account of a football match seen on television by another person is bad enough, but when these descriptions extend over a month's play. even the dedicated supporter longs for the final whistle. Like World Ctip ‘94 itself. this book shows bn'lliant promise. only to decay into the boring and the predictable: a book of two halves. (John Cairney)
PICK OF ’94
The list gets between the covers of the best books of 1994.
I Who Will Run The Frog Hospital? by Lorn'e Moore (Faber 14.99) An unsung talent, Moore posesses a rare and off-kilter talent that shines in this quirky and off-beat humorous story of poignant adolesence. frogs and Paris. One for your best female buddy.
I A History Maker by Alasdair Gray (Canongate £13.99) Inspirational killed yarn of warfare and eroticism in the 23rd century that wreaks with lines like ’Ye doitcd gomeril!‘ HON-FICTION
I A Shot In The Heart Mikal Gilmore (Viking £15) Rivetting insight into the mind of killer Gary Gilmore and the family that defined the term ’dysfunctional‘.
I The Captain’s Verses Pablo Neruda (Anvil Press £8.95) The god- Iike genius ofthe man who can invoke a quivering in grown adults on reading his poetry.
I The North China Lover Marguerite I)uras (Flamingo £5.99) Duras was born in Indochina in 1914. This account of her adolescence retells and reconsiders the story already documented in her book and subsequent film The Lover. Written as a novel. its staccato. poetic prose is wonderfully evocative and erotic as the tale of a teenager. referred to as ‘the child' and her Chinese lover. is played out against the vivid backdrop of their circumstances and culture.
I Sex and Dating: The Officially Politically Correct Guide Ilenry Beard and Christopher (‘erf ( I'Iarpeifollins £4.99) Billed as informative. hilarious and increasingly topical. this is an abysmal. Americanised A-—'/. of hamburger psychology which celebrates loony therapy junkies. misrepresents valid commentators and will leave us Brits cold and bewildered. Add to that a preoccupation with rape which is nothing to do with consensual sex and certainly not hilarious. and you have an offensive. worthless little publication.
I The Junky’s Christmas and Other Yuletide Stories lidited by Elisa Seagrave (Serpent's Tail £8.99) William Burroughs provides the title story and A.I.. Kennedy. Frank 'l‘uohy and William Trevor are among the seventeen international fellow contributors in a black. twisted anthology which tells Christmas like it really is. Quality writing, a distinct lack ofChristmas spirit (lots of death and horror) and a good turnout of Scottish scribes makes this an essential. thorougth enjoyable antithesis to the festive fun and frolics overdose. (Susan Mackenzie)
nuan— Word Up
‘It's great to have an alternative and radical bookshop back in Scotland,’ enthused James Kelman at the opening launch of Word Power, a new specialist bookshop In Edinburgh. Established by Elaine Henry, the lively bookshop aims to redress the balance for those readers who feel the large chalnstore bookshops just aren’t supplying a wide enough range of
James Kelman congratulates Elaine Henry
books in areas such as women’s health, race and culture, feminism, politics, green issues and Scottish writing.
Henry explains, ‘I want it to be more
than just a bookshop, which is why I’ve been in touch with community organisations.’ Henry offers a free bookstall service providing specialist literature for any relevant organisation’s event or conference. Also on the agenda is a book-ordering service and the prospect of discussion forums between authors and the public. ‘I want to bring together like- minded folk so that they’re discussing the ideas in the books as well,’ she says.
Word Power is at 43 West Hicolson Street, Edinburgh, 662 9112. Mon-Sat 10am-6pm.
98 The List 16 December 1994-12 January 1995