I A Working Mother Agnes Owen (Abacus £5.99) A slim volume with an aptly illustrated Alasdair Gray dust jacket. this is cunnineg simple and solidly related. We share the bewilderment of Betty, who is convinced everyone around her is mildly barking. Armed with a fortune-teller's forewarnings. she attempts to make sense of it all.
I Gay New York George Chauncey (Flamingo £8.99). Subtitled The Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940. this paperback original is dense and extensively sourced. Taking New York — until recently considered the USA's ‘gay capital‘ - as his focus. Chauncey charts the cultural. social and political formation of a gay society with considerable flair. Fascinating.
I The Orange Tree Carlos Fuentes (Picador £6.99) in Spain and Mexico. Fuentes is considered a literary genius. Perhaps then. The Orange Tree loses tnuch in translation. Five frustrating short stories purporting to be ﬁve novellas tell tales of Latin-American history from Columbus to Hollywood, each cleverly boasting a different. glaring flaw. Too ﬂorid. too dry. too flippant . . .
I The Trickster Muriel Gray (HarperCollins £5.99) Sam Hunt lives a ‘down-home', decent life in a small town in the Canadian Rockies. But beneath the mountains. The Trickster is preparing to vent mystical. magical and monumental terror and Sam is in the ﬁring line. Gray's fledgeling fictional foray adds ‘accomplished tale-teller’ to her tally of talents — a thoroughly enjoyable 707 pages.
I Julip Jim Harrison (Flamingo £5.99) Julip, a delicately sketched portrait of adolescence; The Seven-Ounce Man, an airy tale of the trials and tribulations of Brown Dog; The Beige Dolorosa. a study in self-exploration and survival — three novellas from the author of film adaptations The Legends ofthe Fall and Wolf. each outstanding and meticulously constructed. (Susan Mackenzie)
I Mean City Ron McKay (Hodder and Stoughton £9.99) You know where you are within the pages of Mean City. A pulverised body is discovered. dangling limp on a bed. surrounded by Christian insignia. Faith, family and ﬂesh — supple or slain are the themes at play in Glasgow's gangland.
Ron McKay, columnist and would-be saviour of Panick Thistle FC. assesses the city's status as razor king capital
through the quasi-fictional and utterly dysfunctional Stark family.The novel spans the Gorbals decades front the 30s to the 90s — the generations control the streets with a cocktail of blades and drugs leaving behind the all too familiar trail of splattered corpses and splintered promises.
Mean City's soft-boiled texture is a fusion of Raymond Chandler and Bret Easton Ellis without the gin-doused patter of the former and numbing ultra- violence of the latter. Rumour has it a screenplay (The Godﬂtither'?) has been mooted. More Tati than Tarantino. I fear. (Brian Donaldson)
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George Mackay Brown: ‘unsurpassed’ I Scottish Love Stories (Polygon
£9.99) Styling itselfas ‘food for the soul of the cynic and the afﬂicted alike‘
this new collection showcases the spectrum ofcontemporary writers, but too frequently presents weaker work.
Deirdre Chapman’s The New Place, which finds a middle-aged woman caught in a fantasy with characters from Greek mythology, is among the surprises from the lesser known writers, while George Mackay Brown’s tale of ghostly love. a poetic synthesis of the tricks that age and memory can play, is unsurpassed in its depth and simplicity.
The Central Belt bards — Galloway, Kelman and MacLaverty — give love the wry treatment it deserves. Consummating this approach. the boyfriend narrator ofGordon Legge's I Never Thought It Would Be You is caught in a wee reverie about his other half — a slice of bitching, banality, and stoned 90s romance.
The uneven standard suggests the collection was pasted together in a rush for Christmas. but the Scottish love story is alive in all its diversity. despite these commercial demands. (Deirdre Molloy)
I John Cooper Clarke and Richard Allen Fri 8 Dec. 9pm. £3 (£1). CCA. Sauchiehall Street, 332 7521. Performance poetry with Britain’s leading rock t — see Frontlines.
I Bobby Miller, Samantha Coerbell and Alan Kaufman Sat 9 Dec. 9pm. £3 (£1 ). CCA, Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521. Performance poetry from three North American ‘slammers’ — see Frontlines.
I dualchas Mon 11 Dec. 8pm. The Arches Theatre. info: 423 6365. Music, comedy, performed readings and cabaret to launch dualchas's new title Helsinki (not the town) by F. N. O'Gafferty. number four in their antibiography series. I Tim Cloudsley Thurs 14 Dec. 7.30pm. £3 (£2). Glasgow Print Studio. 22 King Street. 552 0704. Open Circle presents an evening of poetry and performance with Tim Cloudsley entitled ‘lncantations from Streams of Fire‘. with flute and guitar accompaniment and free glass of wine.
I Poems 8: Pints Fri 1 Dec. 7.30pm. £1.50 (£1). The West End Hotel. Palmerston Place. Tonight's gathering of the Edinburgh Writer’s Association includes a special guest appearance by Eveline Pie. Floorspots available.
I Aileen Paterson Sun 3 Dec. 2—4pm. James Thin, 57 George Street, 225 4495. A gala Christmas shopping afternoon with competitions. games, demonstrations and
a signing session by the author of the Maisie books. I Black Ace Books Wed 6 Dec. 7pm. James Thin, 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The publishers launch of two novels by Edinburgh authors: House ofLies by Colin Mackay and The Hawthorn Hedge by Mercedes Claraso. I David Purves Wed 6 Dec, 7.45pm. Netherbow Theatre. High Street. Info: 334 5241. An evening with the Poetry Association of Scotland, as the editor of Lallans reads from his new collection Herts Blttid. I Scottish Love Stories Thurs 7 Dec. 7.30pm. £1.50. Fruitmarket Gallery. Market Street, 225 2383. The launch of Polygon‘s new diverse collection featuring readings by Janice Galloway, Susie Maguire and James Robertson among others. I Women In Publishing in Scotland Christmas Party Thurs 7 Dec, 7.30pm. Filmhouse bar. £6. Christmas celebrations with the group dedicated to promoting the status of women in publishing. Non- members welcome. including men. I Scotland’s Ruine Thurs 7 Dec, 7.30pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. A reading from Lockhart of Carnwath's memoirs of the Union. published by the Association for Scottish Literature Studies at £25. I The John Masetield Memorial lecture Wed 13 Dec, 7.45pm. School of Scottish Studies, 27 George Square. info: 334 5241. Howard Gaskill. editor of The Poems of Ossian. asks ‘Why MacPherson's Ossian?', at this memorial lecture for the founder of The Poetry Association of Scotland.
I John lamond Thurs 14 Dec. 7pm. £1. Waterstone's. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. A reading. signing and, most importantly, tasting to accompany the launch of Lamond's new book The Malt ll’hiskv File (Canongale £9.99). '
I Jill Dawson, Brian McGlynn and Mick Parkin Tue 5 Dec. 7.30pm. Paisley Arts Centre. 0141 889 2360. Acclaimed writer and editor Jill Dawson joins forces with performance poet Parkin and singer/songwriter McGlynn as part of the Voices and Visions series.
iialr yesterday, hair today, hair tomorrow: John Cooper Clarke
THE WRITE STUFF
English/Gaelic-speaking poet, novelist and ex-high school teacher, Iain Crichton Smith, tells journalist Ian Smith how the school day set him up with a writing schedule for life.
Name lain Crichton Smith
Route to becoming a writer I started writing when l was about eleven. when l was still at school in Stomaway. 1 had a big notebook that i kept the stuff in, but 1 never thought of showing it to any teachers at the time because they weren't the kind of people you showed poetry to. While studying English at Aberdeen University 1 was writing for the University magazine. l‘ve been writing ever since then.
Previous Jobs 1 was an English
teacher for about 25 years. 1 did three years at Clydebank High School and the other 22 years in Oban High School.
Daily Routine l'm not actually doing
as much as 1 used to when l was younger, but when 1 ﬁrst left teaching in 1977 to write full-time. i decided that 1 would keep to the same hours. Basically that was starting at nine in the moming and finishing at about four in the afternoon. i did all my creative work in the morning and then ifl had book reviews or anything like that i would do it in the aftemoon. Nowadays 1 tend mostly to do my work in the momings and just read in the afternoon. Influences 1 would say that the main inﬂuence on my writing at the beginning was W.H. Auden. i read him when l was quite young, but 1 still think he's probably the greatest poet of this century.
Ambitions One ambition that l’ve always had, but don't think 1 will ever fulfil. is to write a really good puzzle detective story.
Fears Well i suppose it would be to stop writing altogether — l wouldn’t know what to do with myself. That would be the most devastating thing that could happen because l've been writing for so long that i think i would find myselfat a very loose end.
Income it varies considerably from year to year. I've got an old age pension and a teacher's pension. You don't get a lot from poetry. but i suppose in effect from my writing 1 probably make about £10,000 a year. lain Crichton Smith appears in A Celebration of Poetry. Five Cities Tour. The Fruitmarket Gallery. Edinburgh. Fri 15 Dec. 7.30pm, £5 (£3).
The List 1-14 Dec 1995 85