UNDER THE COVERS
Glasgow-born and Edinburgh-raised, Gavin Esler is the BBC’s chief North American correspondent. Teddy Jamieson discovers what books make the journalist tick after-hours.
‘Recently I‘ve been reading the Quotations ()fS'peaker Newt. the little red. white and blue book of the Republican Revolution. It‘s about Newt Gingrich. who is. without doubt. the centre of intellectual life in Washington. 1 merely offer you that as a bit of reportage. I‘m not offering it as praise.
‘The book I‘ve just ﬁnished is a trtrly great piece of non—ﬁction. called The Nation of Victims. 1 can't remember the author's name. it says that in the past 30 years. America has changed from being a country of rugged individualists. who go out and conquer the prairie and ﬁght in the Wild West and take responsibility for their lives. to being a culture of whiners. What the writer does in the book is essentially list a whole lot of lawsuits. For instance. there was a woman who got a cup of hot coffee from MacDonald's and put it between her legs while driving. It burst and scalded her and she got money from MacDonald's. There‘s a whole lot of these cases in which people claim to be victims when it‘s pretty obvious an element of common sense and personal responsibility would have gone a long way.
‘There‘s quite a lot of duty stuff. There‘s about a dozen big texts over the last couple of years which. if I hadn‘t read. I wouldn’t be able to do my job. I had to read First In His Class. a book about Clinton‘s early years. which is fascinating. There was also Creating A New Civilisation ~ The Politics Of The Third Wave. That's Alvin and Heidi Toffler's book. It‘s a kind of digest of some of the better ideas from Future Shock. with a forward by Gingrich. 1 had to read that to get some insight into Gingrich.
‘l‘m a big fan of Elmore Leonard. I think he's great. The interesting thing about him. for tne. is that he exceeds the bounds of his genre. You‘ve got a crime writer who happens to be a great novelist. 1 also like Walter Mosley — the President‘s favourite writer.‘
Esler's third novel The Blood Brother is published by HamerCollins at £14.99.
DEBBIE— BEBDP ’TIL YDU tutor
I Journals Midtitties (1954—1958) Allen Ginsberg (Vintage £25) The Beat generation‘s lasting legacy could prove to be nothing more than a penchant among pensive youths for shades and black polo-necks. Nowadays. the vocabulary seems quaint. the literature a tiresome tirade and the prime movers a rnisogynist mutual appreciation society. but they tumed revolt into a style that remains for many the deﬁnition ofcool.
A Barntunesqrte showman with a genius for sclf—protnotion. Allen Ginsberg is the granddaddy-o of all hipsters. taking his cue from Walt Whitman and singing a song of himself through four decades of sex and drugs and bebop jazz. Covering the formative period when he and his cronies were ﬁnding their voice and their audience. Ginsberg‘s mid—50s journals. collected
in this volume. have been culled from a much larger word-hoard and comprise dreams. draft poems and libidinous fantasies.
Beginning with his move to the West Coast and a brief encounter with Neal Cassady. they take him on a search for satori. through the publication of Howl and the subsequent obscenity trial. and end with his travels in Europe and Tangier. where Burroughs was spewing out The Naked Lunch. Ginsberg being what he is. we are treated to a half- digested stew of mysticism and egocentric confessional. all of which provided the raw material for an anti- establishment pseudo-Buddhism that : eventually disappeared up the anus tnirabilis of the late 60s.
One telling heading appears above an i early entry: ‘lmportant Dream‘. lfthat seems perfectly okay. you probably dig the old prankster already; if you’re sceptical. you might have some difﬁculties succumbing to the Beat surrender. (David Harris)
TD HELL AND BACK
I Go Now Richard Hell (Codex Records £6.95)
One of the most original and profoundly influential ﬁgures of the New York punk scene ofthe 1970s. Richard Hell (nee Meyers) was also — with the exception of Patti Smith — the most literary-minded of his peers. With a history in small press poetry publication. he had initially moved to the city with the avowed intention of becoming a writer.
Punctuatcd with Robert Quine‘s alleycat guitar. (io Now is a recording of Hell‘s Marlborough-and-black- coffee reading of the opening chapters
of his forthcoming. highly autobiographical novel. Detailing the minutiae of a spring morning in the early 80s — a time when Hell was both completely disillusioned with music and into the urnpteenth year of his on- again. off-again affair with heroin — it combines the ﬁrst person narration and sparse. clipped styling ofthe hard- boiled tradition with occasional chains of visionary beat poetry.
The result is an unforced. hypnotic
(low of storytelling which never fails to sound authentic. almost like the private 3 unfolding of someone's thoughts.
" For information about (Io Now. contact (‘orlex Records. [’0 Box [48. Hove. [fast .S'ussex'. BN3 3/)Q.
DISEASE OF THE HEART
I Of Love And Other Demons Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Jonathan Cape £13.99) As in his earlier novel Love In The Time OTC/rolera. Marquez presents a love story set against a backdrop of disease. This time rabies is a fairy-tale from the school of magic realism. it‘s not so much grim as splendidly macabre.
At the age of twelve. Sicrva Maria is bitten by a rabid dog and handed over by her father to a convent. She is
believed to be possessed by devils and is locked tip. The bishop orders a priest. Cayetano Delaura. to perform an exorcism. but instead he falls in love with her. Banished to a leper colony. he climbs into the convent to spend wilfully unconsummatcd nights with Sierva Maria and her reams of red hair. These dangerous liaisons lead ultitnately to their mutual destruction. Rich. but sparer written. this short. danse-macabre of a novel is a nuts: for admirers of Marquez and a perfect introduction for those who have yet to encounter his work. (Paul l-loughton)
I Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? Lom‘e Moore (Faber and Faber £5.99) On vacation in Paris. her marriage fractured. American Berie reflects on her adolescent devotion to estranged best friend Sils. Both products of dysfunctional families. Sils is wayward and glamorous. Berie more naive and servile. their adult lives paradoxical to childhood dreams and adventures. Sparkling. heartfelt and addictive. this is essential reading.
I The Auricle Johnny Rodger and KD. Farquharson and Spoutmouth Raymond Burke (both dualchas £4.99) Published by
3 the Glasgow arts co-operative to launch
. their ‘Antibiography series'. although 1 only 60 pages apiece. both works jangle
i i i
the imagination. With illustrations by Farquharson and text by Rodger. The Auricle is a curious and complex consideration of the functions and physiology of a baby‘s ear. Spoutmouth. a tale of deprivation and self-destruction on
' a Glasgow housing scheme. shows
enormous potential. but Burke may ﬁnd his niche already crowded by Welsh et al. I Faithlull Marianne Faithfull with David
i Dalton (Penguin £5.99) A tale of fame
and famine. this is a frank. wittily self- deprecating and immensely readable autobiography. From dizzy heights as darling of the musical 60s. romance with Mick Jagger and universal respect to drug addiction. homelessness and attempted suicide — and back again — this serves as an encyclopaedic insight to the era and beyond.
I Insomnia Stephen King (New English Library £5.99) As one has come to expect from King. this is chunky. epic. involved and fantastical. Ralph loses sleep. begins hallucinating. realises his best friend is two sandwiches short of a picnic and that his borne town is the next Armageddon. Great stuff. (Susan Mackenzie)
I Margaret Thomson Davis Tue 4 Jul. 6.30pm. John Smith‘s. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The Glasgow writer reads from and signs copies of her latest book Kiss Me No More (Hutchinson £15.99).
I Duintin Jardine Wed 5 Jul. 6pm. Waterstone‘s. 116 Union Street. 221 0890. The Edinburgh-based crime novelist will be reading and signing copies of his latest paperback book Skinners Trail (Headline £5.99).
I Barry Graham and Michael Cannon Tue 11 Jul. 6.30pm. John Smith 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Edinburgh- based writer Barry Graham reads from his new novel The Book OfMan (Serpent‘s Tail £8.99) and Glasgow‘s Michael Cannon dips into his ﬁrst novel The Borough (Serpent‘s Tail £8.99). Each book is a different take on Glasgow life. See preview.
I The Guerrilla Girls Thurs 13 Jul. 7pm. £2 (£1). CCA studio. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521. New York art terrorists The Guerrilla Girls talk about how a bunch of masked avengers ﬁght sexism and racism in the art world. The event coincides with the publication of Confessions ()fT/re Guerrilla Girls (Pandora £9.99).
I Barbara Kinghorn Mon 3 Jul. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. Acclaimed South African actress Barbara Kinghorn reads from and signs copies of her autobiography Miss McKirdv’s Daughters Will Now Dance The Hi ghland i Fling (Transworld £5.99).
I Where’s Wally? Sat 8 Jul. Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436. An all-day children‘s event based on the Where's ii’ally? books series. with author Martin Handford. Phone for details of times.
I Alastair Scott Mon 10 Jul. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The launch of Alastair Scott‘s book about
; his travels round Scotland. Native
Stranger (Little Brown £16.99).
I J.K. Mayo Tue 11 Jul. 1pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The author reads from his new novel The lit/Lsterless Men (Macmillan £14.99).
I Kelsang Zopa Wed 12 Jul. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. A talk by author Kelsang Zopa about his latest book lntrodtaftion To Buddhism (Charpa £5.99). followed by a session of guided meditation and questions.
I Diana Dabaldon Thurs 13 Jul. 7pm. Waterstone's. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. The American author known for her Scottish sagas reads from and signs copies of Voyager (Arrow £4.99). the ﬁnal part in her trilogy of novels including Cross Stitch and Dragon F lv And A other.
I Bridget MacCaskill Thurs 13 Jul. 6pm. Dillon‘s. 20-22 Murray Place. 01786 451141. Bridget MacCaskill gives an illustrated talk on The Blood Is lVIld (Jonathan Cape £14.99).
__DDJ‘he rm in Jun- 1 3 Jul 1995