Ten years after cult film Withnail And I was released, its star Richard E. Grant publishes his film diaries, a trip through a world of Hollywood celebrities and wannabes. He speaks to Ann Donald.

Name Richard E. Grant. 1 had to add the E because there was already someone called Richard Grant in Equity when I joined.

Age 39 on 5 May this year. Previous jobs I’ve been a waiter. a driver. a painter and decorator and a PR for a hotel.

Route to becoming a writer I‘ve always kept very comprehensive diaries ofevcrything I've done and I’ve been writing for the newspapers for quite a few years now as a sideline plus the Pref/1 Porter diaries I published last year. so this isn‘t really that new to tire. Daily Routine It can be one of two extremes. Either I‘m lilrning and on location in which case I‘ll be working from 5.30am until 9pm and then rack up a lot oftime on the phone to my family and travelling back to see them when lcan. ()r if i‘m not working. I'll take riiy daughter to school and loaf around .

Influences There have been a myriad of influences. 1 would never be so presumptious as to say that Martin Amis has been an influence. but I admire his novels greatly. A fundamental influence as regards acting is Donald Sutherland. In the 70s he was the only actor I saw who was very tall. with a long face and completely unlike the Robert Redford lookalikes around. He also came from a little town in Canada and could do comedy as well as straight theatre.

Ambitions I‘m in the middle of writing a screenplay called Mud. set in Swaziland where I was brought tip as a Child. So I'd like to get that done and direct it.

Fears I have a fear of being paralysed. among other possible medical incapabilities.

Income I couldn't possibly tell you and 1 think the only actor who would. would be John Travolta. If I told you. people would either take gleeful pleasure saying I was underpaid. or be miserable and think I was being overpaid. 1 get paid enough.

With Nails: The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant is published by Picador on Friday ll) May at £17.99.


I Mavis Beltrage: A Romantic Novel Alasdair Gray (Bloomsbury £13.99) Gray's latest book is billed as ‘a straight novel about love'. and an eclectic collection of live shorter tales which aim to ‘amuse readers who do not Iirid the world comfortable and don't expect to escape from it alive. It has the same ‘filler‘ feel about it. though. as earlier oddball and insubstantial literary outpourings Something leather and The Fall 0] Kelvin ll'itlker.

The common thread between the lot appears to be the often perplexed musings of a hidden. yet omniscient narrator. who assumes the guise of the middle-aged man at odds with the incongruities and inconsistencies of certain younger females he comes in contact with.

The only true logic according to the maverick brain and imagination of nieister Gray emerges in lidison 's- 'I'raetatus. Personally I‘d rather wait for the long promised Anthology 0/ Pie/aces. which will hopefully leave more of a stain on the brain than this. (Ann Donald)


I The Spirit Level Seamus Heancy (Faber and Faber £7.99) ‘The weather- eye of a poetry like the weather" is how lleariey pays tribute to Hugh MacDiarniid in his latest collection. but the epigraph could equally well apply to the new Nobel laureate himself. Having supposedly transcended his trademark naturalism. his best poems retain elements (in every sense) ofthat early style. and his voice seems truest when depicting manual toil and rural routine. or invoking the memory of childhood. The Troubles are often visible in the background as the simple fact of life that they became. and the

book‘s longest poem. Myeenae Lookout. set in the Trojan War. may recall more recent Balkan conflict: but his power remains in finding fresh words for modest subjects.

While his previous collection. Seeing Things. swelled with epiphanies. there are occasions here when ideas cloud the vision: loose allusions and grandiloquent phrases mar the effect (why exactly do builders work ‘as if/Tlie Pharaoh‘s brickyards burned inside their heads'."). Too often -— for a Nobel Prizewinner. that is I-leaney takes his eye off the subject. constructing the edilice before measuring tip his material. (David Harris)


I Borderliners Peter Hoeg (Harvill Panther £6.99) A mesmerising writer. Hoeg has come tip trumps again. A bleak yet brilliant novel with surreal overtones and subtext of the theories of time. Borderline/1v follows the lives of three disturbed children who must battle and transcend the oppression of a bizarre experimental school.

I High Fidelity Nick llornby (Indigo £5.99) An anthropological expose of men's obsession with balls. the murmurs of recognition punctuating llornby's debut I’erer Pile/i continue iii High Fidelity. a two-pronged probe of men and music and men and love. A man who has lived his life on the fringes of ‘The Music Biz'. our narrator is plunged into emotional schizophrenia with the departure of the lovely Laura.

I The Unconsoled Ka/iro lshiguro (Faber and Faber £6.99) Published to a ma/c of contradictory opinion. The ('neonvoled is a fine noch bttt equally soporilic. In 535 pages. everything and nothing happens to music maestro Ryder. Arriving at a (‘ctitral liuropean city hotel for a recital. his itinerary is vague but unremarkable. Soon it becomes apparent that his visit has much deeper repercussions.

I Goodbye Johnny Thunders Tania Kinderslcy (Sceptre £8.99) Nancy’s new life in London is as cool and crazy as it should be. Then .lack enters her life. the glamorous bad boy. Kindersley isn't in the commercial cult league but she's got more talent than most. (Susan Mackenzie)


i Glasgow I Carl Macoougall Tue 7 May. 6.30pm.

.lohn Smith. 252 Byres Road. 334 2769.

i The author reads from and signs copies of

his latest book The ('as'anova Papers

(Seeker and Warburg £12.99).

I Alasdair Gray and Agnes Owens Thurs 9 .May. 7.30pm. £3 (£1). John Smith. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Two of Scotland's foremost writers talk about their latest titles Maris Belfrage and People like That respectively (both Bloomsbury £13.99). See review.

I Rob Grant Fri 10 May. 12.30—1pni.

1 Dilloris. 174 6 Argyle Street. 248 4814.

The author reads from his latest Red Dwarf novel. Backwards (Viking £15.99). I Keith Floyd Fri 10 May. 6pm. £2. \‘v'aterstone's. 121 Union Street. 221 0890.

The flamboyant TV chef signs copies of ‘. his new book from the TV series I’lr'yd ()n .ltriea (Michael Joseph £18.50).

I Margaret Thomson Davis Tue 14 May. 6.30pm. John Smith. St Vincent Street. 221 7.172. The author introduces the conclusion to her trilogy of Glasgow novels A Kind ()g/Q'llortality (Century £15.99).

I Timothy Good Wed 15 May. 6.30pm.

5 £1.50. Glasgow Film Theatre. 12 Rose

Street. 332 8128. Good introduces his new book Beyond Top Secret (Macmillan £16.99) with illustrated lecture and open discussion on UFOs.

I Susan Jetiers Thurs 16 May. 7pm. \\'aterstone's. 121 Union Street. 221 0890. 12.3()--2prii. The influential psychological guru talks about her latest book End The Struggle-1ndDance lI'it/i Life (Hodder £14.99).

I Janice Galloway Thurs 16 May. 6.30pm. John Smith. St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The award-winning writer of The 'l'riek Is 7}) Keep Breathing reads frotn her new collection of short stories Where

11m Find It (Jonathan Cape £9.99).


I Kim Stanley Robinson Fri 3 May. 7pm. \Vater'stone‘s. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. The science-fiction author reads from her

II Keith Floyd Fri 1() May. r2.3r)— 1.30pm.

new work Blue Mars (Voyager £16.99). I Poems And Pints Fri 3 May. 7.30pm. i £1.50 (£1 ). West find Hotel. Palmerston 1 Place. lrifo: 346 2212. The monthly meeting of Edinburgh Writers' Association. All welcome.

I Miroslav Rolub Sun 5 May. 7.30pm. £5 (£2.50). Fruittiiarket Gallery. 45 Market Street. 225 2383. The Czech Republic's leading poet reads from his new volume of poetry .S‘nppoved '1}; Fly (Bloodaxe Books).

I Seamus Heaney Mon 6 May. 7.30pm. £7 (£5). Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. 220 4348. The Nobel Prize- winning poet reads from his most recent work The Spirit Level (Faber and Faber £7.99).

I A. S. Byatt Wed 8 May. 7pm. Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. Byatt reads from her latest novel The Babel Tiltt't’r (Cltzttto £ l(i.99). See preview.

I Alasdair Gray and Agnes Owens Wed 8 May. 7.30pm. £3 (£1). Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436. The popular Scottish authors read from their latest titles Mavis Bel/rage and People like That respectively (both Bloomsbury £13.99).

I Nick llornby Thurs 9 May. 7pm. £2 (£1 redeemable against book). The Music Box. Victoria Street. Info: 556 6934. The author of Fever Pite/i launches his latest paperback High Fidelity (Indigo £5.99). I Barbara Trapido Thurs 9 May. 7.30pm. £2 (members free). Lyceum Theatre. Info: 555 4856. The author talks about her new novel.

James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The TV chef launches his new book from the TV series Floyd On Africa (Michael Joseph £18.50).

I Rob Grant Fri 10 May. 7pm. Watcrstone‘s. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. The author reads frorii his latest Red Dwarfnovel. Backwards (Viking £15.99). I By The Pound Sun 12 May. 7.30pm. Fruitniarket Gallery. 45 Market Street. 225 2383. Kicking offthe Fruitmarket's poetry cafe are readings by young Edinburgh‘ poets Ian MacDonough. Matthew Hollis. Gavin Jones and David Hopkins.

I Christian Aid Book Sale Sat 11 -1"ri 17 May; 10am—4pm (Sun); l0.30am~~3.30pm (Mon-Fri); 10.30am-8pm (Thurs). St Andrew‘s and St George's Church. George Street. 225 3847. Annual book sale including sortie early writing by ()pposition leader Tony Blair and the launch of Marjory MacNeill's biography .‘y'ortnan .llart'aig ~ .-I Study 0/ His life :1an Work (Mer'cat Press).

I Timothy Good Tue 14 May. 7pm. £3. Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. 220 4348. This real-life X-l‘iles investigator reads from his new title Beyond 'Iop Secret (Macmillan £16.99).

I lntemational Storytelling/Cultural Evening Tue 14 .May. 7.30pm. £3. Roriianian (‘ultural Institute. 16611igli Street. 667 3397. Stories. music and poetry from South America.

I Janice Galloway Wed 15 May. (i.3()p111. £1.50. limpire Rooms. lidiriburgh Festival Theatre. 13-7—29 Nicolson Street. 5296000. The author reads from her new short story collection ll'here linr l-ind It (Jonathan (‘ape £9.99).

I Joanna Trollope Wed 15 May. 7pm. Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. The endurineg popular novelists reads from her new book New ()1 Km (Bloomsbury £ 14.99 t.

I Susan Jetters Thurs 16 May. 7pm. Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. The popular psychological guru talks about her latest book [find The Struggle And Dance With Lite (Hodder £14.99).

I Hugh Laurie Thurs 16 May. 7pm. Assembly Rootiis. 54 George Street. 220 4348. £3. The comic actor introduces his new novel The (inn-Seller ( lleincmann £12.99). Save £l if you buy a copy on the night.


I Voices Of Conscience Writers Festival Until Tue 7 May. Paisley Arts Centre. 1 New Street. 887 1010. Three days of international readings. workshops and performances. First tip are New '/.ealand poet Jade Reidy. l.enin Sissay. .lean ‘Binta' Breeze and performance poetry from Ferguslie Park \‘oice Box on Fri 3 May at 7.30pm.

N The List 3-16 May 1996