Political satirist and illustrator Ralph Steadman reveals a penchant for the French classics spurred on by a love

of croissants and French coffee.

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‘Out of all the Zola novels I’ve been reading, Therese Raquin has been the . most gripping. it’s about this interloper, a real Roger the Lodger character who falls in love with the I rather plain wife of the couple he’s boarding with. Together, the wife and he decide to kill the rather sickly husband, which actually proves quite difficult, but eventually they end up drowning him. It’s actually quite horrible, quite hideous when Roger the lodger has to go to the morgue and look for the husband’s remains to make sure he is quite dead. Then finally, among all these grotesque bodies, he spots the husband with half an arm and it hits him right in the gut and the soul.

‘lt’s the perfect Zola novel because he loves dissecting French families. The Earth is a little difficult to get into at first but then Zola starts his dissection and you realise that the French peasant community are so brazenly ruthless and brutal with each other.

‘l’ve also been reading a lot of Flaubert and Balzac. I think it’s because I’ve got this certain nostalgic love for France. i guess it’s got a lot to do with early breakfast eating croissants and coffee in the lovely French landscape, in villages that are untouched. It was when we were living in this converted goat-hut near Montpelier where a lot of the peasants live on toughened terrain that i came across the vicious bitchiness of the French peasant. That’s why Zola is so important to me.

‘I don’t think I would ever want to illustrate any of Zola’s novels, as it would spoil the illusion of the story within the reader’s head. I do remember years ago my mother buying magazines called Woman which had illustrated love stories. 1 did kind of admire them but as I became older and more political i thought they were pretty silly and soft. That idea has stuck in my head, so i only feel comfortable on my own turf, illustrating my own work. Though I have to say that the idea of doing the whole works of Dickens could be interesting - lust taking every character and the text relating to them and conjuring them up. It would be a twenty-year project. Bight, I’ll

start today!’ (Ann Donald)


I Dark Green, Bright lied Gore Vidal (Andre Deutsch £14.99) First published in 1950. this novel was eerily prophetic and quickly became more factual than fictional. The protagonist is Peter Nelson. a young American officer who. having been obscurely court martialled out ofthe US army. arrives in a Central American Republic just as its former dictator. General Alvarez. is making a

bid to reclaim power. Nelson joins the General and his son in an attempt to seize the provincial capital of Nadatenango. which is not an easy task when allegiances are constantly changing. The novel is based on Vidal's own experiences in Guatemala and he has prefaced this edition. Although this book may have become topical. the writing is so dated that the only thing it’s alive with is cobwebs. Vidal is more comfortable as a satirist and essayist especially when lampooning the destination he never made - the White House. (Paul Honghton)

noonAv ron DOLLYWBDD i

I Dolly My life And Other Unfinished Business Dolly Parton (Harper Collins £16.99) Once upon a time in a little ol’ hick Tennessee Mountain Home there lived a fresh- faced hillbilly kid who talked to the angels and secretly harboured a dream of stardom in Nashville. That gal. ladies and gentlemen. was Dolly Patton famed for her pure-as-the-driven- snow voice and double D bust and this is her rags to riches tale. Couched in the same endearineg cornball language as her lyrics. we observe Dolly‘s

success in pursuing her three grand

passions of God. sex and music as she sashays her sweet way from Smokey Mountains poverty to Dollywood superstardom. An unswerving allegiance to her self-styled individual Awareness Method unfortunately ptrts the brakes on any mind-blowing revelations of the Hollywoml Baby/on kind. as does the annoying sprinkling of saccharine when it comes to name- checking a Parton family ofbiblical proportions.

It is only her spitfire sense of self- depreciating humour and a brief but revealing Q and A chapter that salvages this autobiography from the schmaltzy celeb pile. (Ann Donald)


I The Black Album (Faber and Faber) £14.99

Kureishi‘s debut novel The Buddha ()f Suburbia dazzled: comic. style- conscious. poignant and bursting with exuberance. Perhaps anything which followed it. then. was always going to be slightly disappointing. Nevertheless. The Black Album is still a good book. Set in London in 1989. it details the extra-curricular pursuits of Shahid Hasan, a student from the provinces. The novel opens when Shahid meets Riaz. the occupant of the bedsit next door to him in his Kilburn lodging. Riaz introduces him to his informal set of hardline Muslims: Hat Tahira and Chad. the latter. in true Kureishi style.

an ex-pimp and crack addict. As Shahid

becomes increasingly involved with their anti-racist activities. he also finds himselfentangled with Deedec Osgood. a liberal. post-modern lecturer at his college. And essentially these are the two main threads of plot.

Though somewhat less enthralling than Budd/ta. Black Album trades on a use ofexacting lifestyle and cultural detail. The ecstasy-fuelled post—acid club scene. the rise of crack use. racism in Docklands. conspicuous consumption and 80s designer label fetishism help create a platrsible historical world view of late Thatcherite London. The Black Album may be a London Kills Me to Buddha‘s My Beautiful lxrumlerette. but no need for alarm. it does not in the slightest resemble Sammy Ami Rosie Get laid. (Bethan Cole)


I Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Dantical (Abacus £8.99) Like Sophie in the story. Dantical was taken from her beloved Haiti and the aunt who raised her at the callow age of twelve. to begin a new life amid the foreignness of America and her previously unknown family. Combining folk stories. family history. political tension. personal hope and despair with a simple but magical. sincere yet poetic prose. Dantical transforms this emotional upheaval into a story of inspiring beauty.

I Small Ceremonies Carol Shields (Fourth listate £6.99) Judith Gill is uneasily approaching middle age with the feeling of being misunderstood. Her teenage daughter is beautifully sensitive. her pubescent son is secretive and her husband is spiralling towards academic madness. Perhaps it‘s Judith herself who is a bit off-her-rocker in Shields simple tale of a woman stuck in the middle of it all with no way out.

I St Agnes’ Stand Thomas Edison (Penguin £4.99) Out of the rich semi- reality of family histories and the stories passed through the generations grew St Agnes" Sta/ul. Set in 19th century New Mexico. all the classic elements of the best Westerns are here: the orphaned children. the approaching Apaches. the old nun with a few tricks up her sleeve. and the outlaw-with-a-conscience on the run from the baddies who aren't too bad afterall. A compelling book which you close with a sigh of relief that good sometimes triumphs over evil.

I Reader, 1 Murdered ilim Too lidited by Helen Windrath (The Women's Press £5.99) From zealous pro-life campaigners beating their own family into cowed submission to a teenage girl's misjudged and bloody revenge for her sister's murder. these stories provide more stimulation for the non-crime reader than the average whodnnnit. There's an array of writers of whom the best known is the inimitable Sara l’aretsky and the least famous but freshest talent is Robyn Vinten.

I The Palace Thief lithan Canin (Abacus £6.99) This. Canin's third book. comprises four novellas of which The Palace Tltlt‘fls the last. A master in the art of subtle non-flamboyant storytelling, he injects understated. dry humour into the lives of his vaguely unfortunate characters who never quite realise their own misfortune. Written with precision. poise and sensitivity. this is a book that makes you feel warm all over. (Katy Lironi)



I W.N. Herbert Fri 24. 7.30pm. £4/£2.50. Tramway. Albert Drive. Call Keith Moore on 227 5887 for more details. The Reading Between The Lines series continues with Herbert bringing a definite Scottish flavour to the proceedings. He reads from his highly praised Scots/English poetry collection Forked Tongues followed by a screening of The Bitter Tea OfGeneral Yen. See Film listings for details.

I The Underwriters Until 21 March. Bay Tree Cafe. Great Western Road. An exhibition of texts and images by ‘an alternative to the Glasgow school of writers‘. this is apparently a Kelman and Galloway-free zone designed to be a fun distraction.

I Martin Millar and Stewart ilome Wed 1. 7pm. £2/£1. As part of the Bad Times series Millar. the spunky and humorous

observer of 90s Brixton. will be reading from works such as Lax the Poet and his

recent Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving.

Stewart Home's work bursts with sex. skinheads. anarchy. blood and guts. which should make for a lively reading.

I Piranesi Wed 8. 5.30—8.30pm. Exhibition Hall. Glasgow University Library. Call 357 3632 for details. in conjunction with the lnstitut Franeais d'Ecosse and the lstituto ltaliano di Cultura this is a special event on the work of French poet and publisher Pierre Seghers. There will be talks. readings and discussions about his book Piranesi from Seghers experts.

I International Women’s Day Wed 8. 7pm. CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521. To mark the day. four Scottish- based women writers read from and discuss their work. Alison Kermack’s poetry expresses a real anger at sexual and class injustice. She has been published in Writing Like a Bastard and the excellent Dream State anthology. Janet Paisley. Lesley Benzie and Patricia Ace will also be reading.

I Poetry Society Fri 24. 7.30pm. Stepping Stones. Grassmarket. £1. The Edinburgh University Poetry Society

hosts readings from up and coming poets Andy Philip. Gary Sarafa. John Wallace. Chris Watt and Sinead Wilson.

I Shore Poets Sun 26. 8pm. Tire Ceilidh House. Tron Tavern. Hunter Square. Free. Live and direct from Edinburgh‘s leading poetry venue Roddy Lurnsden. Christine De Luca and Hugh McMillan read from recent work. while Shirley Bennet and Stewart McLaren provide vocal and banjo accompaniment.

I Releasing The Writer Tue 28. 6.30—8.30pm. Conference Room. Central Library. George 1V Bridge. 225 5584. Twenty tickets are available from reception in advance. Author and poet Janet Paisley leads this workshop for budding poets.

I Christine Marian Fraser Tue 7. 2—4pm. Oxgangs Library. 343 Oxgangs Road North. 445 5699. A meet the author session for the woman behind popular classics such as the Rhanna and the Kings series of novels.

I Joy llendry Tue 7. 6.30—8.30pm. Central Library. George W Bridge. 225 5584. The Chapman editor offers advice on freelance writing as part of the Releasing The Writer workshops.

80 The List 24 Feb-9 Mar 1995