Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley’s latest novel Moo is a comic journey back to her agricultural roots. In the midst oi a publicity tour, she discusses how she gets away irom it



‘While I’ve been on this book tour I’ve been away irom my two dogs and two horses so I’ve had to sneak in a little Dick Francis to get my horse iix. I’ve lust read Ilot Money which is a bit oi an unusual book for him because it’s not got too much to do with horses. It’s about a very rich man with live wives, live ionner wives and nine children, all oi whom want his money. One of the sons is a jockey so that’s where the horse bit comes in.

‘I’ve also been reading a book called The Intelligence oi Dogs which talks about the diiierent types oi canine intelligence: instinct, working and potential intelligence. I tried the book out on my Golden Retriever who turned out to be a genius but we had to stop with the Great Dane after two questions.

‘In the last iew years more and more psychologists have been writing about the inner lives oi animals. One oi my iavourites is The Inner Lives oi Dogs by [11 Marshall Thomas. She’s a trained anthropologist who decided to lollow her dogs at night and observe them as ii she was observing an alien people. It’s quite an interesting book in which she decided that the dogs wanted each other’s company more than anything else.

‘Another one is by Vicki llearne called Adam’s Path. She was a deconstructuralist at Yale as well as a dog and horse trainer so in this book she’s decided to deconstruct dogs and horses. I didn’t buy it so much because oi the theory.

‘Jelirey Mason is a rather controversial writer and scholarly type who has written an exhaustive book called The Emotional lives oi Animals. Instead oi doing original research into animals’ lives, he went into the archives and did a survey oi what people had previously done on animal emotions irom James Goodhall to the

laboratory-type surveys. Basically he comes to the conclusion that people Instinctiver react to their pets as it they had emotions rather than believing Decartes’ theory about animals having no emotions.’ (Ann Donald)


I The History Of The Blues Francis Davis (Seeker & Warburg £17.99) With so little documentation of the origins of the blues. cuesswork has always stood in for established facts. Even the early phonograph records give a misleading account ofthe music‘s history. With all this uncertainty. no blues history can ever be truly definitive. so Francis Davis seems to have decided it‘s okay just to relax and communicate his

. understanding ofthe word ‘comic‘.

. Brookner (Cape £14.99) Restraint is an

passion as best he can. Davis isn‘t an ethnornusicologist or sociologist (though he is sharp enough

to clear up misconceptions on. say. migrations both from and within the Delta) and neither is he blind to the unpalatable (to folklorists) truths that the blues was largely about entertainment and that blues songs were usually only a minor part of the repertoire of ‘songsters‘.

The joy of Davis‘ approach is that the text is readable and non-acadernic while being informed and gently opinionated. Some whites can sing the blues. he decides. while settling a few scores on subjects like the relationship of the blues to the civil rights movement. the consequences of the 60s blues revival and the inevitable bugbear

‘authenticity'. (Alastair Mabbott)


I An Anthology oi Irish Comic Writing f Selected by Ferdia Mac Anna (Michael 1 Joseph £15.99) Did you hear the one about the Scotsman. the Englishman and the 43 20th century Irish writers? Despite the Irish being the butt of many a playground joke. this is. surprisingly. the first comic prose rebuttal of that ‘daft Paddy‘ stereotype ever published. It is compiled purely on the basis of Dubliner Mac Anna‘s personal sense of humour and the author is to be congratulated for his all-embracing

Here we encounter comedy as political

lampooning (Mcrvyn Wall). tragedy (Bridget O'Connor) and ordinary life (Roddy Doyle). The consequence is

: often not the proverbial barrel of Frank

Carson laughs btrt a rather wry smile in recognition ofthe subtle insight the story gives to an ordinary human situation. That said. the presence of Brendan Behan. Spike Mil'igan and a clutch of contemporary authors carrying on the macabre tradition of Irish comic writing makes this. in the immortal words of Frank Carson. ‘a erackcr'. (Ann Donald)


I Incident in the Rue Laugier Anita

I over-valued weapon in the armoury of

. disparities between the life imagined

2 Glasgow

English novelists. While it enables dramatic irony and can illuminate

and the life as lived. it can be a barrier to the reader’s engagement.

There is a frustrating look-but-don‘t- touch quality to Anita Brookner‘s prose. Incidents in the Rue Laugier is built around a diary fragment. from i which the narrator extrapolates a purely imaginary tale of suppressed passion '1 and exploded ambitions involving her prim French mother. innocent English .

father and the seductive David Tyler. ; This bogus remembrance of things past

is full of meditations on the solitary life and ordinary disappointments. exposing Brookner's vaunted gift for nuance as a

; habit of circumlocation. Psychological

facts are reiterated and embellished without providing further insight. and

g although the pace picks up in the

, second halfofthe novel. the chivalrous j gesture on which the plot hinges is

' faintly ludicrous.

With the novel's genteelisms - ‘This

. dampness conferred upon the house a

not unpleasant smell‘ - and bluestocking sentimentality. this is Barbara Cartland for people who‘ve

' heard of Proust. (David Harris)


I The Longings oi Women (Penguin £5.99) and Eight Chambers oi the Heart (Penguin £7.99) both Marge l’iercy. Leila has lost her best friend to cancer and her husband to adultery. Mary is her homeless cleaner. struggling to maintain her dignity. Becky is the self-tirade woman and alleged murderess Leila is writing a book about. Told from each woman‘s perspective this is a chilling and moving portrayal of fate and uncertainty. Alternatively. [fig/It Chum/mas- is a fat selection of poetry from Piercy's twelve earlier volumes. plus new material. l'ler gentle voice explores the female experience and the Jewish faith.

I Angel Anita Mason (Penguin £6.99) Freddy has dedicated her life to flying. her ultimate reward test-flying the Luftwaffe's top-secret Stuka. Now. with her dangerous knowledge and World War 11 almost over she must reflect upon her single- tnindedness. A clever twist on the Boys" ()wn genre injected with politics and personal endeavour. xllli’t'l is intriguing but a tad dry.

I A Place Where the Sea Remembers Sandra Benitez (Sceptre £5.99) Taking Santiago. a coastal Mexican village as its

5 pivot. this unusual and seductive debut

novel explores its inhabitants. giving each 5 a voice. displaying their intricate

relationships and individual hopes. ()n the surface a simple tale. intrigue unfolds.

I A Second Liie Dermot Bolger (Penguin £6.99) Having survived a horrific crash. Sean is forced to review his life and discover who he really is beginning with his childhood when he was given up for adoption. With perception and a lovely conversational style. Bolger has produced a winner. (Susan Mackenzie)


I A.L. Kennedy and Tom Leonard Tue 6 I Jun. 7pm. Waterstone's. 132 Union Street. f 221 0890. To celebrate the copious amounts of Scottish writing talent on their books. publishers Jonathan Cape and Vintage are on tour under the banner The Magnetic North. Tonight. Tom Leonard joins A. L. Kennedy. who will read from her latest novel Sol Am Glad (Jonathan Cape £9.99) and Now That You’re Back (Vintage £5.99).

I Deborah Cameron Wed 7.1un. 7pm. CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 0522. £2 (£1). Discussing the politics of language - whether it is good. bad or indifferent will be linguistics lecturer Deborah Cameron. to coincide with the

I publication of her book Verbal Hygiene (Routledge £10.99).

I Valentina Harris Fri 9 Jun. 12.30pm. Waterstone‘s. 132 Union Street. 221 0890. Harris will be trying out some recipes and signing copies of her latest book Simply : Italian (BBC Books £16.99). ', I Iain M. Banks Sat 10 Jun. 1pm. John 1 Smith & Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 l 7472. Banks will be signing his latest science fiction paperback novel Feersom | Era/jinn (Orbit £6.99). a tale of bravery i

! and hope. fear and betrayal. { I Philip Kerr Mon 12 Jun. 7pm. £2 (£1). I CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street, 332 0522.

The successful Edinburgh-born writer reads from his latest thriller Gridiron

(Chatto £14.99). set in a technologically- , advanced building with a mind of its own. I Film rights for the book have already been

bought for $1 million by the makers of

; Four ll’Z'r/(lingx And A Funeral. See

feature and Edinburgh listings.

I Sapphire Wed 14 Jun. 7pm. £2 (£1). CCA. 350 Saachiehall Street. 332 0522. To coincide with the first Pride Scotland event on 17 June. radical American poet Sapphire discusses sexual violence. lesbian love and mother-daughter relationships.


I Duncan McLean and Alan Warner Tue 6 Jun. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 83 George Street. 0131 225 3436. Part of The Magnetic North tour by Jonathan Cape and Vintage. McLean will read from his hard-hitting new novel Bunker Man. and Warner will dip into his latest work Morvern Callar. See preview.

I Patrick Gale and Suzannah Dunn Wed 7 Jun. 7pm. Waterstone's. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. Gale will read from and sign copies of his new novel The Facts of Life (Flamingo £15.99). and Dunn will dip into her latest paperback novel Past Caring (HarperCollins £5.99).

I Alexander McCall Smith Thurs 8 Jun. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The Scottish author will read from and sign copies of his latest short

I stories collection Heaven/v Dale (Canongate Books £8.99). joined by actors. singers and musicians.

I Robert J. Waller Thurs 8 Jun. 7pm. Waterstone's. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. The author of international bestseller The Bridges ome/ison (.‘ountv will read from his new work Bartlet-Music. I Fiyona Campbell Fri 9 Jun. 6.30pm. The Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. £1.50. The intrepid traveller will read from her book On Foot 'I‘hmug/r Africa and show slides from the trip. Contact James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495 for tickets or signed copies of the paperback.

I Philip Kerr and Joan Smith Tue 13 Jtm. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 13-14 Princes Street. 556 3034. Blockbuster novelist Kerr reads from his latest novel Griz/iron (Chatto £14.99). the chilling tale of an intelligent building. and Smith reads from her latest crime novel I‘ll/[510]) (Vintage £14.99).

I Sue Lawrence Thurs 15 Jun. 7pm. Waterstone's. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034. £1. The former Masterr'ltefwinner demonstrates some of the recipes in her latest book Feasting (m Herbs (Kyle Cathie £17.99).


I Janice Galloway and Tom leonard Thurs 8 Jun. 6.30pm. Dillorrs. 20—22 Murray Place. 01786 451141. Galloway and Leonard join forces for a reading. as part of The Magnetic North tour.

787The List 2-15 Jun 1995