THE WRITE STUFF
TV journalist Jon Savage has become one of Britain‘s most inﬂuential writers on pop culture. As a collection of his work is published, he speaks to Teddy Jarnieson.
Name Jon Savage.
Previous jobs I trained as a solicitor from I976 to I979 and quit as soon as I qualified. Front I979 to I982 I worked as a researcher for (iranada. then I was a journalist with ’I'ILAJI. which was a major league nightmare.
Route to becoming a writer I was studying corrrparry law in the summer of I976. which is the ruost boring thing in the world. I was staying with a friend in the Peak District and I went out for a walk and suddenly thought I don't want to do this. I want to be a writer. Within a few months I'd w rittcn my first fan/inc as a direct result of seeing The ('lash and The Sex Pistols.
Daily routine I get up probably about nine. have two pots of tea and a good breakfast. I don't start work until eleven. work until three. go and have a swim and have a late lunch. do whatever errands I need to do and I start again at six and go on to eleven. I like writing in the evening becatrse you don‘t get disturbed.
Influences When I was growing up I was very influenced by the underground press of the late 60s. And when I started writing abottt punk rock I was a Burroughs obsessive. With Burroughs yotr lrad a way of translating the speed of events in a rrrodcrrr way. It seemed to tire that everything accelerated to the point where to have a l9th century writing style jtrst didn't work.
Ambitions I have a book to do for (‘halto called ’I‘eenalee. which is a history of 20th century youth culture. That‘s the next big project. My ambition is to keep on doing what I'm doing and just get paid rrrorc. I think I've passed through the stage where you thought you‘d grow otrt of pop and in fact I still find my self sustained and excited by it.
Fears I'm a Virgo so I‘m a great worrier. I'm claustrophobic. so as soon as anyone mentions pot-holing I start gorrrg mental.
Income I'm just a couple of thousand under the VAT register and I try to keep it that way.
('r'nssrng ()r'er: Il’rr'lr'ngs ()n Pop. Style And Sexuality” I976 9.)- /)_v Jan .Sai'tlm'
'13" published by (Tlrllln A'- ll’r'nr/as at
i~ / f). 99.
[ETER- eurrmrrc UP
I Venus Flaring Suzannah Dunn (Flamingo £9.99) That stark feeling of betrayal is at its most potent when it has bitten away at a lifelong and seemingly solid friendship. In Venus Haring the victim is Veronica. the perpetrator is ()rnella. When total trust has been dissolved there is no going back and the only way to go is down. to the depths of despair where the desire
for vengeance gnaws at the flesh with no potential for relief.
In this cruel gem of a book. Suzannah Dunn writes with economy and flair. detailing a childhood relationship founded on the hockey pitch and cemented through debating their favourite Womble. Y't somehow the point is reached where truth and loyalty are replaced by paranoia and hatred.
If this sounds anything like your own life. then steer well clear. If a pacy and intelligent read is what you‘re after. dip in and let Dunn‘s prose penetrate your nightmares. (Brian Donaldson)
FOR THE RECORD
I A Year With Swollen Appendices Brian Eno (Faber And Faber £9.99) It's just another year e/re: Eno. There are albums with Bowie. U2 and James to spirit out of thin air. debilitating art exhibitions to organise. a charity to launch. The kids are alternately vomiting and being adorably cutesome. There‘s a minor revolution in computer-generated music happening iii the studio. And what. oh. what to do with those chicken pieces in the fridge?
Yes. Brian Eno was human all along. and he‘s splendid company in this unselfconscious (until he decides to publish) diary. rambling through foreign trips. thumbnail sketches of his celebrity chums. buses ridden. meals cooked. erections achie .ed. jokes remembered. The inevitable stretches of tediuru are enlivened by fussy quirks and sonre track-stoppingly sharp observations ~~ rntrch like an lino record. in fact. By the end. you'll want to hug his kids. buy his wife some flowers and advise the old fellow to get out less. (Alastair Mabbott)
I Letting Go Patrick Blake (Minerva Press £7.99) This novel starts out as a promising assault on the psychic senses. immersing us in a portrait of alcoholism and the bitter turmoil of a rocky relationship. But when reckless lush Myles ()‘Donnel is evicted by his girlfriend and sets out to rebuild his life from scratch. the drarrra is snuffed out. Myles's redemption is spurred on by a therapeutic ethos as Blake updates the
Lawrentian view that wilful desire and materialism are wrecking our emotional development. Selfish egos and their fallout are heavily signposted by the narrative as it veers from first to third person and between characters. leaving the irrragirration sidelined.
Depression and addictive personality are explored in disarming detail that is sporadically fascinating. Apart from this. Letting Go ploughs on towards the light at the end of the tunnel. abotrndirrg in principles. few of them literary. (Deirdre Molloy)
I The Destiny of Nathalie ‘X’ William Boyd (Penguin £5.99) Since kick-starting , his career with the short story collection ()n the )ankee Station. fifteen award- strew'n years Irave elapsed before Boyd’s return to the genre. After the title story which moves frorn his native Africa to the affectations of Hollywood. the focus turns to Iiurope. the whole bleak but littered with exotic characters and experiments in constrtrction. I Heart’s Journey Into Darkness Jarrres Btrcharr (Ilarvill £6.99) Winner of the (ham/tan I‘TCIIUII Award. Heart's Journey parrtts a vivid and sinister portrait of the last days of the (‘old War. (‘ombining love story and thriller with historical fact against the backdrop of a split (iermany. the book follows Richard I‘isher as two opposirig faculties make clandestine plans for the final showdown. I Kicking The Pricks Derek Jarrnarr (\"intagc £8.99) Originally published irr I987 as /‘/re Last (filing/and. this postlttrrrrotrs reprint of diary entries. intcrv rcw's arid script notes collated from the film‘s productiort period smacks of cash-in. the ramshackle excitement of the original magnified as shambolic rambling. Despite this. the book offers tl reasonable rrtsiglrt to .larrrran's life. work arid world views. I Cheap Lives Antorty Sher (Abacus 1699) Set irt South Africa. this is respected actor Sher's' third novel. After white tour guide Adrian becomes the only living victim of black drifter Yusuf. a self- profcssed mass rrrur'dercr. Itc begins to write to him in prison. An uneasy portrayal of the human mind and their relationship emerges. I Lost Cowboys Ilarrk \\'angford (Indigo £6.99) The Johnny (‘ash of gynaecologists goes wild Ill the big country to uncartlt South Altier‘icas real-life cowboys. dispelling cliches. consolidating myths and covering many miles arid legends along the way. Riding on the back of the 'Wcstern~ resurgence. Wangford blends a sense of the absurd with cultural and historical tutorial to excellent effect. (Susan Stricken/N)
I Kinky Friedman Fri 3] May. 7.15pm. £2. Waterstone's. 45 Princes Square. 22l 9650. Country singer and novelist l‘r'iedman takes time out from the Big Big (‘ountry music festival to read from his new book (im/ Bless John Wayne (Faber £8.99).
I Polygon Poetry Wed 5 Jun. 6.30pm. .Iohn Smith's. 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. Art evening of poetry readings with Donny ()‘Rourke. editor of the anthology of new Scottish poetry [)n'anrstate (Polygon £l().95) and Angela McSeveney. author of Coming ()at With It (Polygon £6.95) among others.
I Frank Kuppner Thurs 6 Jun. 6.30pm. John Smiths. 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. The author reads from his new novel Life On A Dead Plane! (Polygon £7.99).
I Irvine Welsh Mon 10 Jun. 6.30pm. The Arches. Midland Street. Tickets £2 from Dillons. I74—76 Argyle Street. 248 48 I4. Scotland’s biggest literary success story since Robert Burns reads from his latest collection of rrovellas Ifestaxv.‘ 'I'lrree (‘lre/nit'a/ It’onranees (Jonathan Cape £9.99).
I Lynda la Plante Thtrrs 13 Jtlll. 6.30pm. The popular scriptwriter and novelist discusses the follow tip to Cold Slrorrlrler. ('o/t/ Blum/ (Macmillan £15.99). continuing the exploits of a female American private investigator.
I Tom Pow Fri 3| May. 7pm. James Thin. 53-«59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Poet Pow reads from his new collection of poems Red Letter Day (Bloodaxe £7.95).
I 00 Reviews Sell Books - And Should They? Wed 5 Jtrri. 7pm. James 'l‘hin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743, An open forum on the merits of book reviews. frosted by The Society of Authors in Scotland with guest speakers.
I Margaret Burnett Fri 7 Jun. noon~ I prrr. Word Power. 43 West Nicolson Street. 66?. 9t l2. The author reads front her debut novel Indians Dan '1 Kiss (Polygon £7.99).
I Poems And Pints Fri 7 Jun. 7.30pm. £l.5() (£I ). The West lind IIoteI. Palmerston Place. Info: 346 22 I 2. It‘s that time of the month again. as the I'Idinburgh Writers Association welcome guest speaker Jeff Lawson and anyone else who fancies joining them.
I Irvine Welsh Tue I l Jtrn. 7pm. Asserrrbly Rooms. 54 (ieorge Street. Tickets £3 from Waterstone's. I3 Princes SIFCCI. 556 303—1 til l'L‘tlL‘L‘lltUble tiff book). With Trainspotting stiII taktrrg the nation by storm (on all forrrrats). .\Ir Welsh hands over his long-awaited fourth offering entitled [fevlavvi 'l'lrree (71mm (1/ It’o/nanees (Jonathan (‘ape £9.99). Signed copies will be available on the night.
I Andy Wightman and Andrew oreig Thurs I3 Jun. 7pm. James Thin. 53 -59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The authors of Who Owns Sent/and .‘v'ow- ((‘anongate
f I499) and The Return 0/ John .llt'A'a/rlr
(Headline Review £|(i 99‘ respectively. discuss the contentious issue of Scottish ownership.
I Richard Brassey 'I'Iittt‘s I i hit).
If). it) I I. Want \Vaterstones. 8 i (ieorge Street. :25 M if) Il‘s ticket for) early lt) Ieartr a second language. so set your cltild on the bilingual road as Brassey reads from his new book l/(‘H 'Io .S/real. (‘lrnn/raniee 2. K99).
I Scottish writer Eric Lomax has won the £25,000 NCB Book Award for The Railway Man (Jonathan Cape £15.99), an extraordinary account of his experiences as a Japanese Pow. Judging panel chairman and broadcaster Jeremy Paxman described the book as ‘a lyrically simple moral tale’. Based in Berwick-upon-Tweed with his wife Patti (above), lomax wrote of being tortured during World War II and meeting one or his tormentors four decades later.
The List (If May- I 3 Jun I996 87