THE WHITE STUFF
Author of The Prince Of Tides - later made into a hugely successful film starring Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte — Pat Conroy tells Ann Donald about his path from soldier to teacher and, finally, screenwriter.
‘ i' I
Name Donald Patrick Conroy
Route to becoming a writer I had a mother who was obsessed about her oldest son becoming a novelist. so she raised me to be a southern writer. She felt that. in order to get ottt of the cycle of poverty she had been brought tip in. she needed to raise a writer to tell the family story.
Previous jobs A fter the Citadel Military Academy. I became a teacher near South Carolina and l was tired in 1969. so after that I began writing and my book The Water Is Wide was made into a film called (,‘mirack. and after that I became a ftill time writer.
baily routine My father never allowed tne to take typing at school because he thought it was a girls' course and that decision has cost me more than any other parental decision in my life. I write on yellow legal sheets in long hand — the habit is so ingrained that I cannot type or use computers. I try to get to the table by 9am and go to noon. After lunch I read fora while. then take a nap and go back to the writing table by 2pm and work till 5pm. ()n a good day I‘ll fill five sheets.
Inﬂuences There was a teacher of mine called James Dickie who was a great influence and the southern writers also influenced me a great deal. Plus the great English. French and Russian writers whom I love.
Ambitions One of the things I'd like to do is write more books. I always envy the people that produce a book a year. I can‘t figure out how they do it. Do they have lives? [)0 they have friends? Income 1 made no money as a kid and I made a lot of money as an adult. The Prince Of Tides lifted me out of the genteel poverty of American writing.
Beach Music by Pat Conroy is published by Doubleday at £15. 99.
I Incubus Joe Donnelly (Michael Joseph £15.99) Dubbing Joe Donnelly the ‘new Stephen King‘ of Scottish horror fiction is rather like calling Taggart our best TV cop. It's not necessarily untrue. bttt where‘s the competition?
Place Donnelly in a wider context and it‘s obvious he‘s more of a Stephen Earl than a King — minor royalty at best. Incubus. his seventh novel. reveals a
competent writer whose work is let down by plodding plotting and characterisation. He's a world away from schlockhounds like Shane Hutson. btrt never matches the eerie grace of the best of breed — the Clive Barkers and Jonathon Carrolls.
Incubus stalks the same territory as I\’o.settiar_\".s Baby. taking a queasy look at the way children take over the lives of their mothers. The incubus in question is an insectile alien creature that would make the son of satan seem saintly. If nothing else. Incubus should boost condom sales among Donnelly‘s fearlch (Teddy Jarnieson)
I Portrait OI The Blues Paul 'I‘rynka (Reed Books £20) This handsome coffee-table book is not an analytical account of the development of the blues. btrt rather a first-hand account ctrlled frorn interviews with some of the people who made the music. from international stars like B. B. King to obscure front-porch pickers.
It has the strengths and weaknesses of that approach - it is a vivid evocation
of the lifestyle and conditions in which the music was created. but the story is inevitably fragmentary. involving the obvious bragging. simple mis- rernembering and wilful re—writing endemic in oral history. Val Wilmer‘s wonderful photographs are as eloquent as any words. and justify the price of what is undoubtedly a beautifully produced artefact. For the fttll picture. though. you will still have to turn to Paul ()liver‘s various books. or Francis Davis‘s forthcoming account of the music. (Kenny Mathieson)
I Mukitva: A White Boy In Africa Peter Godwin (Picador £16.99) Looking back on childhood through adult eyes is
never easy. From Peter Godwin‘s standpoint. not only his life. btrt his country has changed irrevocably. Mukiwa recounts his development from the child of liberal white Rhodesians during the I960s to reluctant boy-soldier and fugitive war correspondent forced into exile. His cultural traditions and memories are. torn apart as colonial Rhodesia falls
into a bloody fight for independence that ends in violent rebirth as Zimbabwe under majority black rule. Godwin‘s journalistic background gives the book an authentic. dramatic immediacy. mixing happiness and humour with death and destruction as man and country are fat ‘ed with rebuilding themselves from an almost unrecognisable past. The simple. anecdotal narrative evokes the ftrll scale ofthis savage upheaval in African history. Accounts of peace and war have rarely conspired to yield such a sobering impact. (Paul Smith)
I Without A Guide Edited by Katherine Govier (Pandora £8.99) Bringing together seventeen international female writers who recall their most memorable travels. Without A Guide is a global trip encompassing art eclectic range of experiences. Contributors include Margaret Atwood in Galapagos. Alice Walker in Cltina and ti. Annie Proulx in North America. every writer tackling their transfortrtations into travel writers irt highly individual ways.
I The Paperboy Pete Dexter (Penguin £6.99) Two powerful newspaper reporters from Miami. polar in personality. arrive iii the wilds of northern Florida to investigate the four-year-old murder of a sheriff. both certain that the wrong man was jailed. Their probings uncover an unexpected web of cruelty and deceit. in a well-structured. expansive and involving thriller.
I Moo Carol Smiley (Flaruingo £6.99) A novel with broad appeal. the Moo of the title is Moo University. tucked away iii the American Midwest. a microcosttt of the human condition. And Moo is in a muddle. both the institute and its inhabitants. How will the oodles of upsets be resolved? Smiley‘s fortes are excellent characterisation arid comedic skill.
I The Queen OI Camp Marybeth Hamilton (Pandora £9.99) Subtitled Mae West. Sex and Popular Culture. initial impressions of this book may suggest a rather dry and contrived work. Instead. the multi-faceted persona of West. a private enigma. and her impact on a broad spectrum of society is handled iii a ltighly readable and genuinely illtrtttinatittg
I The Green Mile 1 Stephen King (Penguin £1.99) And finally . . . or not. as the case may be. The first instalment of a six-part work in progress. these 92 pages introduce trs to two perfect. btit dead. sisters. the man who murdered them and the man who will initiate his destiny. No one knows what will have transpired by part six. except that your pocket will be £11.94 lighter. (Susan Mackenzie)
I West End Creative Writing Class Tue 26 Mar. 7.30-9.30pm. £4 (£3). Phone 334 1652 for details. ()ne of a series ofclasses aimed at writing for pleasure. tonight's subject: 'Writing to Music (classical. avant-garde. jazz. pop. rock. folk etc)‘.
I West End Creative Writing Class Tue 26 Mar. 7.30—9.30pm. £4 (£3). Phone 334 1652 for details. The penultimate class in this series looks at 'Writing from the Imagination'.
I Nick iIaim Fri 29 Mar. noon. Waterstone's. 45 Princes Square. 9650. The TV cook signs copies of his new recipe book Wild Harvest (BBC £14.99).
I Stephen King Launch Wed 27 Mar. Dillons. 174—6 Argyle Street. 248 4814. Don‘t get excited. Mr King won‘t be there in person. btrt the first instalment of his new six-part series The Green Mile will. along with lots of promotions and freebies. including free copies to the first 500 people.
I Horror Evening Thurs 28 Mar. 6.30pm. Dillons. 174—6 Argyle Street. 248 4814. An evening ofdark fantasy. with three Creed authors reading from their new books: Joe Donnelly Incubus (£15.99). Freda Warrington Dark Cathedral (£5.99) and Storm Constantine Stalking Tender I’rey (£5.99).
I West End Creative Writing Workshops Sat 30 Mar. 10.30am—4.30pm. £20 (£15). A day-long workshop with professional tutor covering areas such as poetry. prose and drama. Phone 334 1652 for further details.
I Margi Clarke Mon 25 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034. The woman behind Channel Four's Good Sex Guide continues to lend a hand to the collective libido with her new culinary offering Better Than Sex Coo/(book (Hodder £14.99). with wine and vegetarian nibbles.
I MacMiIlan Thriller Tour Tue 26 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone’s. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. Hotly tipped new American thriller writers Craig Holden and Chuck Hogen read from their new novels The Standojfand The River Sorrow ( both Pan [5.99).
I Scottish Ghost Stories Tue 26 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034. A double bill of ghoulish writing. with James Robertson reading from his collection of fictionalised legends Scottish Ghost Stories (Warner £4.99). and author of Imelda John Herdman reading front his new novel Ghostit-riting (Polygon £7.99).
I Seamus Heaney Tue 26 Mar. 8pm. BBC Scotland. 5 Queen Street. 225 3131. The Harvard Professor and Nobel Prize Laureate gives a Robert Burns Bicentenary Lecture entitled ‘Burns's Art Speech‘.
I Nick IIairn Tue 26 Mar. noon. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The BBC slash and burn chef signs copies of his new book Wild Harvest (BBC £14.99). featuring Scottish recipes from his restaurant in Aberfoyle.
I A. l. Kennedy Wed 27 Mar. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The acclaimed author reads from her award-
winttirtg novel So le/n Glad ( Hutchinson £5.99). now otrt in paperback.
I lesley Claister Wed 27 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone's. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. One of Ruth Rendell's favourite novelists reads from her new darkly sinister book The Private l’arts ()j~ Women (Bloomsbury £14.99).
I James Robertson Mon 1 Apr. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The author reads from his imaginative new collection of Iictionalised legends Scottish Ghost Stories (Warner £4.99).
I Dr Susan Manning Tue 2 Apr. spur. Church of St Andrew S; St George. George Street. As part of the Robert Burns Bicentenary Lecture series. Cambridge University's Dr Susan Manning delivers ‘Burns arid God'.
I Hanit Kureishi Wed 3 Apr. 7pm. Royal Lyceum Theatre. Grindlay Street. 229 9697. Tickets also available from Waterstone's. I3--l4 Princes Street. £2 (includes £1 off signed copy on the night). First tip in the Lyceum's new ‘In The Hot Seat' series. is novelist. screenwriter and playwright Hanif Kureishi. who will talk about his latest projects. answer questions and sign copies of his newtish) book The Black Album (Faber £5.99).
I Voices and Visions Tue 2 Apr. 7.30pm. Paisley Arts Centre. 887 1010. Co-writer of Coogutt 's Run and The Mrs Merton Show Henry Normal performs his sublimer witty poetry. with music and poetry from singer/songwriter Andy Thornton.
‘ 88 The List 22 Mar-4 Apr 1996