THE WHITE STUFF
As crime writer Reginald Hill’s latest novel is published, three feature- length films based on his Yorkshire detective team are to be broadcast. Teddy Jamieson checks his details.
Name Reginald Hill
Route to becoming a writer I always loved the idea of being paid for making up stories. so when l ttrrncd 30 I thought it was time to have a go. I set out to write a psychological novel. btit I got I00 pages in and suffered a lot of self-doubt. so I introduced a crime element. Though I‘ve written war novels and futuristic stories. I've always come back to crime. particularly to Dalziel and Pascoe.
Previous jobs I worked in edtrcation before becoming a writer. I taught English literature and then I was a lecturer at teacher training college. Prior to that l was a student at Oxford. I became a full-time writer in 1980. Daily routine I start writing as soon as I get up in the morning. before anything gets in the way. The first thing I do is re-read what i wrote the day before. Occasionally l rewrite it or even discard it all. but I don't look at a blank sheet and let that obsess me because that way madness lies.
Inﬂuences Dickens is my favourite writer. He did everything. Even when he was bad. he was interesting. ()f course. I read my contemporaries and I‘ll steal anything I feel is particularly good.
Ambition To write the book which is ﬁnally going to match the idea in my head.
Fears Just the four in the morning fears. What‘s that noise? Did I lock the back door?
Income After my initial worries and doubts, I've made writing pay. I have no financial wom’es. but I‘m no Jeffrey Archer. I can't go out and buy myselfa yacht ifl feel like it. It ranges from year to year, but even in the worst years my income is well above subsistence level.
Reginald Hill will read at Waterstone's. [28 Princes Street. Edinburgh. 0131 226 2666 on Mon [8 Mar. The Wood Beyond is published by HarperCollins at £14. 99 and a three-part television series based on his work begins on BBC! on Sat 16 Mar.
I Darkest England Christopher Hope (Macmillan .L' l 5.99) At its heart. Christopher Hope's new novel has a treat notion — I50 years after Livingstone and Stanley were off rilling through the dark continent. David Mungo Booi reverses the process and arrives in England for a spot ofexploration.
Dar/rest [England is an example of that most dangerous of genres. the English satirical novel. Fortunately.
Johannestrg-born Hope has none of
the clubbable affability of his English counterparts and when he puts the boot in. he goes in hard.
True. he targets the usual suspects — literary innocent Booi has run-ins with the Church of England. xenophobic. animal-loving little linglanders and the landed gentry. bttt Hope balances this with more topical fare. The Queen's anmrs horribilis and hippy convoys both impact on Booi's qtrest.
()nly in one sense does the writer conform to generic standards. Like every other linglisb satirical novel. Darkest litre/and is not remotely funny. (iood to see some traditions are being maintained. ('l‘eddy Jamieson)
I Rogue Trader Nick l.eeson (Little. Brown U699) Nick Leeson. the son of a Watford plasterer. becatne the golden boy of the trading floor in Singapore. He ended tip in jail having lost his employers. Barings Bank. around £850 million.
Rogue Trader is a surprisingly compelling. nurtter-of—fact account of how Leeson found himself in such a sticky situation. With meagre background reference to his formative years. the btrlk of the book follows the daring risks taken by Leeson and the
blatant deceit involved in covering tip a
series of bad judgements.
To his credit. l.eeson doesn't excuse his actions. bill he makes it clear the very ethics and management structure of the merchant bank were as much to blame.
As well as being highly pressurised and far from glamorous, this is a world that seems so alien. 'l'hankfully. roguish lad l.ecson‘s sense of humour keeps the human perspective alive by comparing the trading ﬂoor to a supermarket where shoppers are frantically searching for bargains before prices go up. A 90s cautionary tale from a man who has learnt his lesson the hard way. (Patti Smith)
ALL MOD CONS
I The Uses Of Disorder: Personal Identity And City Life Richard Seiiner (l’abcr And l’abcr £9.99) The watchful spirit of community and its suburban recompenses form a popular credo in our decade. In Richard Sennet's eyes. they are doomed to bring grief. streamlining our fears of each other. and ptrtting families under unbearable strain.
Steepcd in history and modern research. Sennet‘s book examines the swatching of modern life into discreet. functional spaces. 'l’eased out. it‘s a physical metaphor for the desire to
control trnprcdictable circumstances. The barados'.’ This scenario stilles enduring lasts for quality. diminishing the ability to hustle aml graft as arenas of social contact shrink into sameness. Dynamic proposals to reverse ‘citi/en malaise‘ animate Scnnet's argument. Focusing on the dense architecture and intermingling of disparate lives in great cities. he suggests a reappraisal of compatibility and rational designs for everyday life. His rich idea of nrbanity surpasses hipster notions of the ei'satl. i'osniopolitun. As the planners gear tip for (ilasgow's reign as (‘ity of Architecture and Design 1999. think about his theories. (Deirdre Molloy)
I The Dead School Patrick McCabe (Picador £6.99) :\1c(‘abe's unique ability to state the tnacabrc in a matter-of-fact. wit-laced way is to the fore once more. .‘ylalachy Dudgeon endures a wretched childhood before securing a post in Dublin's most prestigious school. But when he meetsheadmasterRaphael Bell. a man who has battled tragedy and ostensibly won. a magnetic. ultimately ruinous relationship develops.
I Our Game John Le (‘arre ((‘or'onet £5.99) Retired secret servant 'l‘im (‘ramcr and capricious Larry Pcttifer. an erstwhile dotrble agent. have an irresolublc rivalry which. unlike the (‘ommunist threat. refuses to fade. l‘rom underground Moscow to Southern Russia they trail each other until a tiny. closed nation provides the catalyst for their final showdown. (iootl stuff from an unrefuted master of the genre.
I Marabou Stork Nightmares lrvine Welsh t\'intage £5.99) Published to coincide with the release of 'lrui/rv/mttitte the mov re. Welshs second novel tends to lack the overall bite of its hugely popular predecessor. With Welsh fever running high. though. it should sell.
I Polite Sex and Miss Undine’s Living Room both James Wilcox (Fourth listate £6.99) Welcome to ’l'ula Springs. Louisiana. the setting for a quirky pentad of novels. .llisy (Tm/inch Uri/re Room finds a disparate collection of townsfolk becoming embroiled in a murder hunt before downtrodden ()Iive Mackie decides to sort things out. Polite Ser meanwhile. follows the fortunes of two 'l‘ula women in New York. (Susan Mackenzie)
I West End Creative Writing Class Tue l2 Mar. 7.3()~-9.3()pm. £4. Phone 334 I652 for details. The second of six classes with a professional tutor. Tonight: ‘binding/l)eveloping the Creative Writer Within‘.
I John Douglas Wed l3 Mar. 6.30pm. Dillons. 174-6 Argyle Street. 248 4814. The FBI agent. serial killer expert and inspiration behind Silence ()f'l‘lic loin/is character lack Crawford. signs copies of his new book Mini/limiter (lleinemarm £15.99).
I An Evening With Polygon Publishers Wed 13 Mar. 6.30pm. .lobn Smith's. 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. Polygon authors Robin Jenkins. Susie McGuire and (‘hris Dolan. among others.
I West End Creative Writing Workshops Sat l6 Mar. l0.30am—430pm. £20. Phone 334 l652 for details. Day-long workshop covering various elements of writing for pleasure. including poetry. prose and drama.
I Poets and Pints Mon l8 Mar. 7.30pm. 50p. Sammy Dows. Nithsdale Road. lnfo: 0|324 474448. Readings from Bob Crampsey. Sheila Douglas. Rene Richards and Kevin Cadwallender.
I West End Creative Writing Class Tue l9 Mar. 7.30—9.30pm. £4. Phone 334
I652 for details. The third of si.\ classes with a professional tutor. 'l‘omght: ‘Writing to Visual imagery revoking words from visual stimuli cg painting and photography).
I Julian Spalding Wed 20 Mar. 6.3(lpttt. .lohn Smith's. 57 St Vincent Street. 22l 7472. The launch of .lulian Spalding and Stefan y art Raay's new book (iii/lwrv of Modern Art. penned in comunction with the opening of (ilasgow 's new gallery.
I Beth Junor Fri 8 Mar. 6 7pm. Word Power Bookshop. 4.1 West Nicolsou Street. 662 ()I ll. To coincide \y‘lllt International Women‘s Day. the Bookshop launch (freon/rum (‘o/u/non lion/en 's l’i'ut'r' ('rmt/r.‘ A History o/ .\"o/1- l ’io/enl It’t'sistu/ir'e (Working Press £8.95 ). a first- hand account of the women's fifteen-year struggle against nuclearweapons.
I Robert Service — A Musical Journey Hi 8 Mar. 7.30pm. £3 (£2). Nethcrbow' fheatre. 43 High Street. 5569579. The Scottish Poetry Library and twelve-strong performing group Quern pay tribute to the English-born Canadian poet.
I Robin Jenkins Thurs l4 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. A rare appearance from the seasoned Scottish writer. as he reads from his new book Lei/u (Polygon £8.99).
I Professor Malcolm Anderson turns 14
Mar. 6pm. .lames 'l hin. 53-59 South Bridge. 556 67-1 3. The launch of two books by the lidtnburgh University Professor. frontiers: 'li'rrilorv (lllt/ State I’m/'Iuitllii/t l/l .'/l('.1/Il(/(’I'Il ll'or/t/ (Polity Press) and I’m/it me the [Euro/n on l'niolt: 'I‘hi'orr. /.ti"»\ and l’rui t/i't' ((‘larendon l’i'r‘ssl.
I Reginald Hill Mon l8 Mar. 7pm. \Valetstones. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. The crime writer reads from his new nmel /‘/ii' lliI(‘(/\ li’i'vom/ (Harpert'ollrns).
I 2 Write 'l‘ne l9 .‘ylar. 6.30 ~8.3(lpm. ('entral library. (ieorge l\' Bridge. 225 .5584. l-‘rank Rodgers leads a participative workshop on writing for children.
I Joan Bakewell 'l‘burs 2l Mar. .lames Thu]. .53 .59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The woman unfortunate enough to have been called ‘the thinking man's crumpet’ reads from her new book The Heart of The Heart of iii/16.llllll('l'll;l3(‘ “5.99).
I New Urban Fiction 'l‘burs 2| Mar. 7pm. \\'aterstone's. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. Three young London-based authors read from their first novels: Andrea l.evy. Never Im- l-‘rom .\'ow/Iere (Headline Review). David Huggins. 'I‘hc [fie Kiss (Picador) and the man tipped as the linglish Irvine Welsh. Ben Richardson. 'I‘hrowine l'lu' House ()n! ()j The ll’i/tdou' (Headline Review). All books are published at “2.99. but can be purchased for £9.99 on the night.
so The List 8-21 Mar 1996