Barbara Rafferty, aka Ella Cotter from Bab G. llesbitt and more recently Jeanette from Rain Dog‘s production Wasted, talks about her voracious reading habits.

‘At the moment I’m reading Alan Bennett’s diaries Writing Home, which I got for my birthday. He doesn’t really give that much away in it, but you can glean certain things and that Northern humour and wryness is still very much there.

‘He talks about this woman, a vagrant who has lived outside his house for about fifteen years. She used to live in a van in the street but the police kept moving her on, so she ended up in his garden. As regards background reading for Wasted, the first time we did it we all read a lot of literature about prostitution and homelessness written by people who had lived in the streets. The same with part two of Wasted: I’ve been reading a lot of literature about prostitutes, the brutality of being hurt by their clients. You can really imagine them being out there in the dark and cold.

‘There have been a couple of books We thought would translate well into drama. One was Gillespie by John Mcllougall Hay, that I did with Borderline a few years ago. It’s about this ruthless shop owner who apparently existed in real life, and about the damage he did trying to build his own sort of empire. He just forgot about everyone eise’s feelings. It’s a real melodrama, but even though it was written last century, it’s still quite pertinent.

‘l’ve really got a wide range when it comes to books and We been an avid reader all my life. The first book that made an impact on me was Jane Eyre, which i read three times because I loved it so much. Then there are those books like John Steinbeck’s East Of Eden, when you hang on to every last page because you don’t want it to come to an end. I love them.

‘1 love reading so much because I’ve always been a member of the library and my parents used to read to us every day or tell us stories before going to bed. There was also my aunt who used to buy us The Children’s Journal or some kind of worthy old educational magazine. All of it fired the imagination. (Ann Donald)


I Astonishing The Gods Ben Okri (Phoenix House £12) The invisible protagonist of Okri‘s new novel - apparently a ‘fable‘ for all ages travels through a strange. mythic land in search of visibility. He passes through empty towns. burning bridges and silences that have melodies. There is nothing wrong with Okri‘s grandiose imagination but his prose is too often abysmal. Clumsiness and blandness have obviously been mistaken for artistic simplicity: short

sentences have never been so turgid or imprecise. Take ‘A fragrance of eternity lingered over everything like the aroma of flowers in Spring‘. Unlike the late. great Angela Caner. ()kri has not appreciated that for myths and fables to work the fantastic worlds in which they are set tnust be more convincineg rendered than day-to-day reality. Rich ideas are obscured by the skin of ()kri's text. so awash with sagging hyperbole its overall effect is the epitome of mindless style. ()ne is agog to think that this is the work 0le supposedly competent writer. A collector‘s item for its sheer awfulness. (Paul Houghton)


I Heart Songs E. Annie Proulx (Fourth Estate £13.99) This latest dazzling output from an author already bedecked in literary garlands for her previous novels Posteards and The Shipping News has a lot to live up to but 'succeeds in bowling over the ecstatic reader to achieve the Proulx triple whammy.

Within these eleven crafted jewels we bravely stalk into the American male author‘s traditional terrain of huntin'. shootin‘ and fishin‘. Here. we catch glimpses of rural lives that unfold in trailers. diners and hardware stores in a wilderness only two miles out of Twin Peaks. From the tame townies disillusioned by their romantic cowboy dream to the two Jehovah Witnesses‘ grisly discovery and the blinding hatred of feuding neighbours. Proulx peels

back the raw emotions of the lost and alone. Most authors would joyously discard a limb or two in exchange for a droplet of Proulx’s lyrical and dense poetry. while the reader can only sit back and lap it up. (Ann Donald)


I Hairdressers Of St Tropez Rupett Everett (Mandarin £6.99) It is too easy to open Everett's second book with the bored presumption nice actor shame about the writing. But unfortunately ten pages later your thoughts are not only confirmed but lost in boredom zone.

it‘s the year 2042. 50 years after the demise of Rockets's decadent lifestyle in St Tropez. when a letterarrives from beyond the grave of the former Miss Peach Delight. sometime prostitute and ‘integral member ofthe in-crowd. Her death transports Rockets back to the (glory days of the late 80s and

characters start llouncing onto the page in tnesmerising succession. There‘s the ex-junkie. the catnp. rose-swilling hairdresser and Salmon Pink and Dosvedanya the talking dogs.

Flitting between Then 1989 and Now the apocalyptic 2042 things get a little mundane as Rockets relates the tale of his seedy past to Ramon the mean machete—wielding street kid.

You lose hope of the story ever going anywhere when Ramon lays aside his weapons in favour of listening to Rockets‘s tale of bitchy. conniving decadence which fails miserably to make the crucial crossover into being a witty. social satire. (Katy Lironi)


I What A Carve Up! Jonathon C‘oe (Penguin £5.99) Meet the Winshaws. a satirical creation epitotnising the barmy. backstabbing backbone of the iingiish upper classes. Here. in the company of their biographer. himself an interesting chappie. we can explore three generations of family history and scandals. The result is a sizzling stylistic stew. ingenious. irreverent and witty -- another triumph for the oft-overlooked Coe.

I Voxpop: The flew Generation X Speaks Jayne Miller (Virgin £9.99) ()perating on the premise that 25+ is too old. Thatcher's l8—25-year-o1d children offer soundbites of opinion. Twenty-one themed sections range from sex and religion to cults attd culture. The representational bias towards the South is glaring and devoid of extrapolation or analysis. which conspires to present a whole that is somewhat pointless. Undemanding entertainment.

I Pfitz Andrew Crumley (1)edalus £7.99) Fiction within fiction as an 18th century prince attd his subjects create a fantastical city existing only on paper and in their minds. As their obsession develops. cataclysmic circumstances arise. Script is intertwined with prose. inventive fantasy itttrudes with ease upon reality. An intriguing. teasing idea which succeeds. but only just.

I Sound-Shadow James Robertson (B&W £7.95) A prolific. accessible attd satisfying new Scottish poetry collection. Robertson has a canny knack of identifying the foibles of daily Scottish life yet isn't afraid of pondering on the world's philosophical and political hot potatoes. Great gusts of dry wit are tempered by subtly placed poignant lulls. attd vernacular gymnastics abound.

I Paradise A bdulrazak Gurnah (Penguin £5.99) Shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize. Paradise paints an arresting picture of the Dark Continent. Sold into slavery. twelve-year-old Yusup's adolescence becomes a disorientating adventure as he travels on a trading expedition into the

‘African interior. battling with the stigma

of his position. Ethereal. econotttical prose disartns. enchants and entwines the reader. (Susan ‘1 'airnie' Mackenzie)


{I Times and Penguin Fiction Festival Sat .- l 1. 11.30am—4. 15pm. £3.50/£2.50. Tron Theatre. Trongate. 552 4267. To celebrate 60 years of Penguin Books a veritable orgy of authors will be reading and signing all day. Premier leaguers include Will Self. William Boyd. Angela Lambert. Dorothy Dunnett and Booker nominee Abdulrazak Gurnah.

I Jimmy Alison Wed 15. l2.30—l.30pm. John Smith & Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The ex-Labour MP will be signing copies of his controversial political biography Guilty By Suspicion (Argyle £9.99) which is being serialised in The Herald.

I Rupert Everrett Thurs 16. l-2pm. Citizens' Theatre. Gorbals. 429 0022. Call Dillon's. 174—176 Argyle Street. 248 4814 for details. An exclusive signing from the l’rét-a-Porter star to promote his latest louche and bitchy novel The Hairdressers OfSr Tropez (Mandarin £6.99). Please note the Citizens‘ Theatre venue.

I Michael Cannon and Carl Macnougall

Wed 22. 7pm. £2/£l. CCA. 350

Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521. Continuing the Writers Read season, new novelist Cannon introduces The Borough (Serpcnt's Tail £8.99). Billed as a 'lament of hopelessness and redemption set in a tight-packed maze of streets and inter- connected lives.‘ the novel is due for July publication. Cannon is accompanied by established author MacDougall. who will be reading frotn his latest work The Casanova Papers.


I Janice Galloway Thurs to. 7pm. Waterstone's. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. A reading and talk from one of Scotland's tnost popular authors. Galloway will be drawing upon The Triek Is 7}) Keep Breathing . the short story collection Blood and the McVities prizewinner Foreign Parts (Vintage £5.99).

I Brian Blessed Sat 18. 11.30am—12.3()pm. James Thin. The Gyle. 539 7757. A signing session for the well- built star of Mae/t Ado About Nothing and Flash (Ion/on who is on hand to promote his racy autobiography Nothing is Impossible (Simon & Schuster £5.99).

I Hilary Mantel and Helen nunmore Tue

2|. 7pm. Waterstone's. 13 Princes Street. 556 3034. Mantel reads from her latest novel An Experiment In Love (Viking £l5). which follows the lives of three convent girls in the 60s. .loining her is Helen Dunmore. best known for her children‘s books. whose latest. Spell 0] Winter (Vikittg £l5) launches her into the adult world.

I Anna Ritchie Wed 22. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. An illustrated talk from the author of Prehistorie Orkney (Batsford £25).

I New Writing 4 Wed 22. 7pm. Assembly Rooms. George Street. £1. Call Waterstone's. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034 for details. Catherine Lockerbie frotn The .S'eotsinan hosts an evening of new writing with A.l.. Kennedy and Candia McWilliam.

I Picador/lrish Night Thurs 23. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. A wild evening of lrish literature and Guinness with lreland‘s Current talent published by Picador. i-Ioin McNamee with Resurrection Man. Colm Toibin with The South . John lViaCKClilli! with A Year ()f()ur Lives and. an lrvine Welsh favourite. Bridget O'Connor with Here Comes John.

CO The List 10-23 Mar 1995