v PAPERBACKS l
I The Scottish Review Edited by Kenneth Roy (The Scottish Review £4.50) Aesthetically akin to The Edinburgh Review. Chapman et al. this is a promising first outing. Unpretentious in its approach. the four distinct. essay-based sections include an interview with Smtsman editor Andrew Jaspan. an essay by Donny O'Rourke and Kenneth Roy on greyhound racing. Diverse and entertaining.
I On The Side Of The Angels: The Second Volume of the Journals of Elizabeth Smart Edited by Alice Van Wart (Flamingo £5.99) A deceptively slim volume crammed with the thoughts of the poet and author of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Beginning in the 40s with her emigration from Canada. through her strange and turbulent relationship with poet George Barker until 1984. two years before her death. Smart’s poetry shines through. Tighter editing and more footnotes would assist the uninitiated.
I Without A llero Coraghessan Boyle (Granta £9.99) Fourth short story collection from the author of five novels. these ﬁfteen quirky tales excel on unique and captivating characters ranging from psychotic therapists to tiger fetishists. The pace is galloping. the dialogue sharp and the whole thing guaranteed to suck you in. As for the cover. it’s lovely too.
I Road Fever Tim Cahill (4th Estate £6.99) The tale of a speed record-breaking journey up America from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska by the author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh . Cahill has brought comparisons to P. J. O'Rourke and Bill Bryson but has a highly witty and entertaining style of his own which will convert the most vehement anti- travelogue campaigner.
I The Miracle Shed Phillip McCann (Faber £8.99) The debut short story collection from a 28-year-old lrishman. this is an ideal post-festive re-entry to serious literature. Ten provocative. unsettling tales of perversion. obsession and chaos. they are meticulously written and quietly menacing. constantly skirting the edges of acceptability to bring reality to the unimaginable. (Susan McKenzie)
I w. ll. Smith Young Writers Competition 1995 The longest-running national children’s writing competition is launched once more with the Poet Laureate. Ted Hughes. leading the panel of judges. Open to anyone under seventeen-years-old. Any type of work from poetry to journalism is welcome. The closing date is 25 February. Call Lois Beeson on 0171 824 5456 for details.
I The Art of the Book Until 19 Jan. National Library of Scotland. George VI Bridge. Edinburgh. 226 4531. An exhibition covering everything from medieval calligraphers and the art of William Morris to that of the present day.
MURDER HE WROTE
I Something Very Like Murder Frank Kuppner (Polygon £8.99) The third of Kuppner‘s ‘novels of sorts'. this is a remarkably candid piece of work. Speculating on the labyrinthine complexities ofan apparently commonplace murder that took place in Cowcaddens. I929. Kuppner initially interweaves these thoughts with reﬂections on the recent death of his mother. As his research into the Wilcox case progresses. the health of
Kuppner‘s immigrant father deteriorates before we or the author reach the end of the book. This produces some intensely personal writing. but Kuppner on the whole avoids being overly sentimental. mainly by informing the reader when and where he has excised such passages.
His responses to personal grief are simple and profound. But when it comes to his investigation of real life murder he is dizzyingly speculative. teasing out myriad possibilities from each mundane fact: nothing is ever quite what it seems. This is an
extraordinary work. (John Cairney)
I A love of Innocence Robin Jenkins (B & W £6.99) Hanging like a pall over this compassionate novel is a theme most often identified with the poet Edwin Muir: that ofthe fall from grace and the purity of childhood innocence.
Jenkins employs the story of two young Glasgow boys with a murderous family history to frame this theme. as we follow ‘the innocents' from the scene of the crime to the orphanage and onto their adopted home on an idyllic Hebridean island.
Yet it is also an anatomy of love and its shortcomings. The young boys‘ presence is a catalyst for those around them. provoking an examination of self-love. Christian love. love between a man and woman and that between children and adults.
Jcnkins's successful and moving portrait lies in his uncanny ability to balance primeval innocence with a darker undercurrent. never once spilling into sentimentality. (Ann Donald)
I Several Perceptions Angela Caner (Virago £9.99) This. the third of Carter’s 1960s magical realism novels.’ won the Somerset Maugham Award when it was first published in l968. Out of print for many years, it follows the recent re-print of her first novel Shadowrlam‘e and displays the same nihilistic decadence surrounding the lives of the hippy. drop-out set of the era.
Joseph is a tragically frail young man with few friends. a broken heart and a superficial despair for the brutality of the world. He is pathetically proud of his symbolic gestures: freeing a badger from the zoo. shipping shit in a box to the White House and botching a suicide attempt.
However. saved from the grave by his enigmatic new neighbour with her ﬂowers, custard and private anguish. Joseph is dragged back to health under the solicitous care of the camply energetic Viv, whose whore of a mother re-ignites his languished lustful
~i'tigrzi 1? anti pun-,ng
The story culminates in the sexually drugged complacence of a Christmas Eve celebration. bringing together each colourful character in a contented post- party afterglow. (Katy l.ironi)
I A Taste Of Scotland Thurs 19. 5.30pm. Princes Square Courtyard. Contact Waterstone's. Princes Square. 221 9650. As part of the promotion for the best guide on where to eat and stay in Scotland, A Taste OfSr‘otlam/ Guide (£4.50). there will be a cookery demonstration by a Scottish chef.
I Janice Galloway Wed 25. 7pm. CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521. £2/£l. As part of the CCA‘s Bad Times series of readings. the 1994 McVittie's Prize
winner is first up. reading from a selection of her work.
I Robert Crawford Tue 17. 7.45pm. Cabaret Bar. The Pleasance. ()ne of the key figures in modern Scottish poetry and the New Generation poets. Crawford will be reading from a selection of his work. I Quintin Jardine Mon 23. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. l3 Princes Street. 556 303-1. The popular Edinburgh author will be reading from and signing copies of his latest detective novel. based on the exploits of character Bob Skinner in Skinner ’s Trail (Headline £16.99).
V UNDER THE OOVERS
Author Ronald Frame, whose latest paperback The Sun (in The Wall is published by Sceptre, talks about two American novels he is currently reading.
‘Dne writer I particularly like but who isn’t popular in Britain is Peter Taylor. He’s a southern American writer born in 1917. I was recently re-reading his book A Summons To Memphis, now out of print. Though he writes about Nashville and Memphis, it’s very far away from the clichéd views we have of these places.
‘The book is about a loss of values. I think that’s what interested me because he does seem to be writing about people who feel their world to be slipping away from them. They’re people who have been defined by the values of this world and somehow have to come to terms with that.
‘I love Taylor’s prose style. I absolutely devour it. It’s very straightforward and simple in that it doesn’t have many pyrotechnics or clever comparisons. There’s just something very hypnotic about it as he lures you into these short stories. I do think the whole business of writing is to do with creating spells.
‘Because he is a true writer he is able to write about the old, the young, men and women. These stories aren’t actually about any monumental events, they tend to be about small incidents that actually affect the way you regard your life: love, betrayal and confusion.
‘The sort of prose I like tends to be elliptical and rather understated, sol particularly enjoyed Susan Minot’s novel Folly. She follows the life of one woman, which in one respect was quite uneventful, yet there’s an unrequited love lurking in her life. It’s the story of sacrifice, buckling down and doing the decent thing. I found it interesting in this day and age, when people’s literary assessment seems to be judged by shockingness, that you have someone capable of writing such a tactful and discreet book that at the same time lets the reader enter into the character’s life fully.’ (Ann Donald)
For the bestjobs in the arts, media, education and
social work, see page 74.
The List 13-26 January l995 73