The List launches a new series attempting to kick writers out of their ivory towers. Ann Donald begins with science fiction writer Paul J. McAuley, whose latest book Fairyland explores a world where change is the only certainty.


I Jack Kerouac - Selected Letters 1940-56 Ed. Ann Charters (Viking. £25). Since Kerouac‘s fiction was always his life story with the names changed. his letters read like unrefined sketches or variations of his published work. The tensions between Jack the boho experiinentalist hipster and Jack the mother loving traditionalist are present. along with a supporting cast of tainted angels (Ginsberg. Cassaday'. Burroughs. lluncke etc). his trademark Madonna/whore complex and. most importantly. those breathtaking chains

of instant image he spun like no one


The portrait of the artist which

emerges is of a man completely

besotted with language and literature. almost doomed -~ certainly fated - to

write. Charters. a friend of Kerouac and

a beat authority. must be congratulated on her lightness of touch when editing this collection. unafraid to show Jack

making an asshole of himself from time

to time.

Although the letters following Kerouac‘s embraccnicnt of Buddhism can be heavy going. as in so many other instances. just when you're about to give up on the guy. he goes and writes something beautiful. (Damien Love)


I The Ghost Road Pat Barker (Viking £15) This is the final instalment of Barker's World War I trilogy that began with Regeneration and continued with the award-winning The lfye in the Door. It follows several of the same fictional and real-life characters Lieutenant Billy Prior. Wilfred ()wen. and psychologist William Rivers. who treated both for shell-shock at Edinburgh's Craiglockhait Hospital ~ through the last few months of the war. Prior and ()wen both succeed iii their

in l-‘rance. returning in the know ledge that their chances of survival are slim indeed. Back in London. Rivers succumbs to Spanish llu. and in his delirium revisits the period he spent in Africa as an anthropologist. living with a tribe of former headhunters. interweaving these narrative strands

with her customary clarity and coolness '

of tone. Barker builds the novel into a subtle. multi-faceted exploration of the human mind‘s negotiations with death

and horror. its sometimes warring

determined wish to go back to the front

instincts for survival and solidarity and into a heart-reading elegy for the thousands who so brutally and needlessly died. (Sue Wilson)


I East, West (Vintage £5.99) Rushdie's exploration of what happens when liast meets West. this collection of short stories coincides with the publication of The .llimr'v Iavt Ste/t. his first full-length novel since The Salami li'rvt'v. Thought- provokmg. charming and a curious insight into one of the writer's pietx‘cupations. See feature.

I The lntormers iii-er I-‘asion t-illis (Picador £5.99) A dull. charmless narrativ e detailing the lives of a vacnous cross-section of l.os Angeles poseurs. each identiliablc by their particular personality disorder. drug addiction or homo/hetero dilemma This overrated offering rides on the wave of hype surrounding its equally overblown predecessor .l/ttet'ti an I’,vvi Ito. 'l‘i’agically. clutching at redeeming straws. it even lacks I’m ha's gratuitous sex.

I Going Native Stephen Wright (Abacus £8.99) Wright (neither. incidentally. the comedian or DJ) has in his third novel produced a wicked. well cool expose of the polarity of 'The .-\merican Way '.

\Vy he .lones embraces and epitoiiiises the .»\mericaii Dream. a model citi/en until the day he steals a neighbour‘s car and embarks upon a journey through .-\merica's darkest tinderbell)’. linguisttclly stylish. perceptiver imaginative.

I Sophie’s World Jostein (iaarder (Phoenix £5.99) Norwegian Gaarder's first linglish language publication. Sophie's Hi'lft/ is a brave. complex novel. infinitely more entertaining than first appearances suggest. Sophie returns from school to find the questions ‘Who are you," and 'Where does the world come

from”. So begins her exploration of philosophy. later L‘litpl()_\‘c‘tl to unravel the problem of the mysterious Hilde who is

respected (‘oles family to a struggling


I Name Paul J. McAuley I Age 40

I Route to becoming a writer Like most writers [just couldn't help it. l just wrote. 1 read a lot of sci-1i books like H. G. Wells and 20.000 Leagues Under The Sea all those types of books that were meant to improve you but ended up being very subversive.

I Previous jobs I‘ve been a scientist for the last twenty years doing research and now l‘ni a full time Botany lecturer at St Andrews University. But I‘m leaving soon as I‘m too old and slow and 1 can‘t do two jobs at the same time.

I Daily routine I take the advice of two writers and put it together. The first one is Fred Phol who said: ‘Write three pages a day.‘ and the second is Brian Aldiss who said: ‘Write one book each year.‘ 1 usually write at night so l‘m not sure what 1‘11 do when I give up lecturing and have to write during the day. 1‘11 probably close the curtains.

I Influences Writers I admire are William Golding. Ursula Le Guin. Jayne Anne Philips. Joanne Russ and John Updike. Also TV programmes like TV21 and the X-men are big influences; musically Van Morrison and Robert Johnson. The city of LA and everything it produces. My entire childhood. Five years of pogoing in Bristol to punk rock and Mahler‘s 2nd and 9th symphonies.

I Ambition To finish my next three books in sequence.

I Fears Not being able to sum the next three books and developing an allergy to coffee.

I Income Enough this year. Not enough next year.

Fairyland by Paul J. MeAuley is published by Git/lane: at £8. 99.

I The Wedding Dorothy West (Abacus £8.99) A leading light ofthe Harlem Rennaissance movement in the 1930s. Dorothy West is a grand dame of

white jazz. musician. This event is the fuse that lights up a box of fireworks for live generations of (tiles. a family

composed of as many hues of black as their personal verdicts on mixed-

American letters. The ll/etliling. her first

book in nearly 50 years. confirms this with class and clarity.

Set in an insular enclave of well—to-do black families on Martha‘s Vineyard. the novel focuses upon the impending marriage of the daughter of the

marriages and social position.

Though a tad tangled at times. this poetic novel explores the complex issues of race and identity with rigour. furrowing out the importance of love and colour within the minds and hearts

; of each family member. (Ann Donald)

infiltrating her life.

I Bushing To Paradise J. (i. Ballard (lilamingo £5.99) When public sympathy for Dr Barbara Raffertys campaign to save the albatross is boosted. she is able to transform a remote Pacific island into a sanctuary. lnliabited by disparate ecologists and dreamers plus a global cross-section of endangered species. the population mix eventually becomes explosive. L‘ndeiiiably well-crafted with an appealing storyline. yet curiously unengaging. (Susan Mackenzie)


I Iain Banks Tue 12. lprii. Bargain Books. 223 Byres Road. Contact ()131 551 2261 for details. The ever-popular author of ('otnplii'itv and The Wasp Factory reads from his new book ll’liit (Little. Brown £15.99). ati exploration of modern society's vacuity.

I Bill Bryson Fri 15. 6.30pm. John Smith and Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. B ryson reads frorn .\'ote.vj'mni a Small

Island ('l‘ransvvorld £15.99). a look back at

his years in Britain as he returns to the US.

I Iain Banks Sat 16. 1pm. Author of The Wasp l‘ilt'lt)!‘_\‘. lain Banks reads from and signs copies of his new novel Whit (little. Brawn £75.99), exploring the .\/7lt'llll(ll l)(ll'l'(’lll1(’.\‘.\‘ af")().v Britain.


I Iain Banks Thurs 7 Sept. 7.30pm. Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. £2 (redeemable against the cost of Banks‘s new book). Author of Camp/it‘itv. lain Banks talks about his new novel Whit

(Little. Brown £15.99). an exploration of modern society‘s vacuity. Contact Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436 for tickets.

I The State Oi The Game Thurs 7. 7pm.

\Vttlcl‘slttllc's. l5 [-1 Princes Street. 550

1034/5. £1. Simon Kuper and special ;t1L‘sts(lisc‘tlss the state (if football and super talks about and signs copies of his atcst book hunt/tall .‘l eat/iv! the l'.7lt’itl\‘ Phoenix £6.99). l-i'ce beer.

I Iain Banks Fri 8 Sept. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The popular Scots writer reads from and signs copies of his new novel Whit (Little. Brown £15.99).

I Janny Wurts Fri 8 Sept. 7pm. Waterstone's. 13— 14 Princes Street. 556 3034/5. Highly acclaimed science fiction writer Janny Wurts reads from and signs copies of her new novel War/rust of Vast/hark (HarperCollins £8.99).

I Robert Harris Wed 13. 7pm.

Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. Richard Harris. author of the hugely popular thriller father/and publishes his second novel litiigtna (Hutchinson £15.99). See him in the flesh before his life and work are exposed in an ()Illlll/HH’ Special on BBC 1. 26 September.

I I Mak it New Wed 1 .7pm. James Thin.

3 .53 59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Markng

; 21 years of writing 111 l.allans. an anthology of poems and prose.

I Bill Bryson Thurs 14.7pm. Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. £1. Bryson reads from and signs copies of his latest book Notes/rant a Small Island ('l‘ransworld £15.99). this time looking at Britain. Tickets available from all branches of Waterstone's. Edinburgh.

I Alec Finlay Tue 19. 7.30pm. Royal Botanic Garden. lnverleith Row. A talk and slide show by Alec liinlay. editor of Wood .Vates Wth (Polygon). a collection of essays exploring the poetry and art of his father lan Hamilton l‘inlay. The slide show will explore l"inlay's renowned garden at Little Sparta. Stoneypath. Tickets are free and available from Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436. I Neil Stephenson Thurs 21. 7pm. Cyberia Cafe. 88 Hanover Street. Cult author of Strum-rash (Penguin £4.99). Neil Stephenson discusses his new novel Diammii/ Aye (Penguin £9.99). Tickets are free and available froin Waterstone's. 13~l4 Princes Street. 556 3034/5.

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