THE WRITE STUFF
Ann Donald speaks to Malcolm Bradbury, editor of Class Work: The Best Of Contemporary Short Fiction. The book includes work by Ian McEwan, Kazuo lshiguro and Suzannah Dunn, and marks 25 years of Bradbury’s celebrated creative writing course at the University of East Anglia.
Name Malcolm Stanley Bradbury Age 63
Route to becoming a writer I started writing mystery stories at the age of twelve. By ﬁfteen. 1 had short stories published in the local newspaper and by my late teens l was writing comedy scripts for the BBC for programmes like Breakfast With Braden. Then 1 went to Leicester University and started writing my ﬁrst novel. Eating People Is Wrong.
Previous Jobs 1 did the Christmas post and worked as a railway porter during vacations at university.
Daily routine 1 get up late. about 9.30am. having read the newspapers and mail. 1 start about 10am with a plan of the day‘s work in my head so l'm never sitting around. I try to write fora whole day till 6pm. then have a drink and something to eat. 1 always watch Newsnig/tt. and The Late Show when it was on.
Inﬂuences One of the strongest literary influences is DH. Lawrence. partly because ofthe local reason — l‘m frorn Nottingham. too — and he‘s writing about places and people 1 know well. while E.M. Forster is the strongest intellectual inﬂuence. 1 travel a lot and that‘s very important to me, so there‘s a balance between the local and the big wide world.
Ambition l’vejust retired from the university so l‘d like to get round to a big bout of writing and complete a couple of novels 1 have in mind.
Fears As I get older 1 start to fear losing touch with culture and not being part ofthe world as it is. One of the pleasures of the writing course was that each new year there would be people in their twenties who were models of the current culture and that was like a shot in the arm.
Income I'm not going to tell you exact ﬁgures but will say that writing is more rewarding than my academic salary. Class Work: The Best Of Contemporary Short Fiction is published by Sceptre at £16.99.
I Memnoch The Devil Anne Rice
(Chatto (it Windus. L‘ l 5.99) At the end of Neil Jordan‘s ﬁltn of Interview With The lion/tire. Guns 'N Roses kick into a cover of 'Sympathy For The Devil'.
F01 the fifth and (supposedly) final
, instalment of The litntpire CIN'UIIIt'It’S. author Anne Rice dances to the same
tune. with her vampire hero Lestat
being dragged like a 20th century
Dante to Heaven. Hell and Purgatory by fallen angel Memnoch in an attempt
' to win him over to the Devils cause. Rice has entirely abandoned narrative
' for philosophical debate. Gone are the grand scenes of the earlier volumes; in come long. flamboyant. (some would
say) blasphemous passages blending
l biblical creation myths with Darwinian
i evolutionary theories. Lestat is his
2 arrogant. whining self. but God is
portrayed here ~ perhaps with a
’ devilish double twist — as the greatest
E egotist of all. With plot on hold. Lestat reduced to listener more than participator. and theological content struggling to raise itself above shallow
self-indulgence. Rice is surely flogging
i an undead horse. (Alan Morrison)
I Lou Reed: from The Velvet Years: Warhol’s Factory 1965-1967 (Pavilion £20), a collection of photographs by Stephen Shore. These striking images document the ‘velvet years’ when the young Shore rubbed shoulders with Andy Warhol, The Velvet Underground, Edie Sedgwick and other Factory- based notables. New York-based writer and novelist Lynne Tillman provides the story behind the pictures.
ROAD TO NOWHERE
I To The Wedding John Berger
(Bloomsbury £13.99) A man and
woman are travelling to their daughter's
wedding. Zedna. the mother. is on a
coach from Slovakia. while the father
Jean is motorcycling frorn France. Both meet an array of characters:
Fredirico the Italian scrap merchant:
Thomas who writes encyclopaedias;
son-in-law Gino whose passion is
fishing; at band of young computer
f hackers. and Dr (jiastaldi. who breaks
the news that Ninon. the bride-to-be. is
‘ HIV—positive. The book‘s most
intriguing character is Tsobanakos the blind narrator who. seeing nothing. knows all.
Fragmentary and imagistic. this is a beautifully written bttt badly signposted. plot-free novel fttll of sense impressions and an overwhelming amount of detached. skitnpily sketched characters. lts constant changes in time. tense and point of view break any narrative grip and it is difﬁcult to follow what largely seems like a collage of mildly related anecdotes.
The royalties frotn this poetic patchwork are being donated to AIDS charity The London Lighthouse. (Paul Houghton)
I Lost in Music Giles Smith (Picador £ 12.99) Looking suspiciously like a ( me-too attempt by the publisher to ﬁnd another Nick Hornby. The Independent feature writer Giles Smith has turned out a dismal book in which he shamelessly rewrites his own adolescence to portray the now- fashionable nerdy music obsessive. Spots are assutned. though never actually discussed.
It‘s hard to believe someone with the
gumption to secure a staffjob on a national newspaper could go through his university career unchanged in his listening tastes. but that‘s what Smith claims. Only music by Stevie Wonder and XTC were played with any regularity during his student years. Further offences Smith asks to be taken into account include a substantial back catalogue of 10CC albums and an almost groupie-like devotion to Nik Kershaw. 1t's hard to tell which is duller — Smith's ‘pop odyssey'. as this book is subtitled. or his record collection. (Eddie Gibb)
I Castlemilk Writers’ Festival Wed 27-Sat 30 Sept. Various venues. Now in its third year. this ambitious festival is moving away from featuring home-grown authors only. This year. London Jewish writer Jenni Diski rubs shoulders with 'laggart and Hamish Mat het/i writer Stuart Hepburn. See Backlist. page 94.
I Yusut Islam Fri 22 Sept. 3pm. John Smith and Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Yusuf Islam. aka Cat Stevens. discusses The Life of the Last Prophet (Mountain Of Light £7.99/£13.99). an audiotape including readings. traditional lslarnic songs and tunes from Cat Stevens‘ own fair hand. Available from John Smith’s.
I Douglas Kynoch Thurs 28 Sept. 6.30pm. John Smith and Son. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The writer reads from his latest paperback Here 's The Us, Who’s Like Us? (Scottish Cultural Press £5.95).
I Brian Moore Fri 29 Sept. 1pm. Waterstone's. 132 Union Street. 221 0890. The acclaimed ln'sh writer will read from and sign copies of his latest novel The Statement (Bloomsbury £14.99). See
I Who’s Setting The Heather On Fire? As part of Glasgay! 1995. John Smith and Son is to host an event for new writers. Showcasing poetry and prose. it will be introduced by Edwin Morgan and Toni Davidson. To take part. send a typed manuscript of the work you want to read frorn (maximum ﬁfteen minutes long) by 15 October to: Glasgayl. Gala Scotland Ltd. 11 Dixon Street. Glasgow G1 4Al-. I Creative Writing Workshops Ten-week courses offering writing techniques and conﬁdence-building exercises for beginners and advanced writers. Contemporary literature will also be discussed and recommended. Evening workshops led by ﬁction writer Paul Houghton MA. who studied under Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter at the University of East Anglia. Telephone ()141 639 7160 (Williamwood) or ()1389 727331 (Bearsden) for details.
I laurence Block Mon 25 Sept. 7.30pm. Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436. The American crime writer renowned for his gritty realism reads from his latest novel A Long Litre Of Dead Men (Orion £15.99).
Germaine Greer, Edinburgh, Tue 26
I John McCarthy and Sandi Toksvig Tue 26 Sept. 7pm. Scandic Crown Hotel. High Street. Tickets £1. Contact Waterstone‘s. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034 for details. Former hostage McCarthy and improvisation queen Toksvig give an illustrated talk and sign copies of Island Raee (BBC £16.99). accompanying the BBC series.
I Germaine Greer Tue 26 Sept. 7.30pm. BBC Studios. 5 Queen Street. Contact
83 The List 22 Sept-5 Oct 1995