THE WRITE STUFF
One of the original US Bratpack novelists, Jay McInerney tells Deirdre Molloy the story of his life.
I Name Jay Mclnemey.
I Age 40.
I Previous Jobs I worked in a publishing house as an editorial assistant. then I was a fact-checker at the New Yorker magazine. I worked as a clerk in a liquor store; I taught English in Kyoto, Japan for two years; I was a bartender. So some fairly glamorous and fairly unglamorous jobs. I Route to becoming a writer 1 was actually in graduate school. I’d always wanted to be a novelist. but it wasn’t until I was 27 that I wrote what became my ﬁrst published novel — Bright Lights Big City. It came out originally as a very small print run but became a cult novel and then a bestseller.
I Daily routine I usually write from 10am to 6pm. taking time out for phone calls and lunch. I write almost every day. even when I‘m travelling. [just had twins recently so I like to knock off around six because they go to bed at 8.30 or 9pm. so I get to spend some time with them which is fun — they're nineteen months old now and starting to be very rewarding.
I Inﬂuences The biggest inﬂuence in my life to date has probably been New York where I‘ve lived full time for the past ﬁfteen years. Its a great source of stories and conﬂict and drama. and I love writing about the city. Obviously there are a lot of writers who probably inﬂuence what I do. Everyone from James Joyce to Hunter Thompson I guess.
I Ambitions My biggest ambition is to someday write a book as great as the novels I admire the most, to write my masterpiece. I’m proud of my books so far but I want to do better. I wrote the screenplay for the ﬁlm of Bright Lights Big City and did a small piece for David Lynch. that was produced by HBO TV,'called The Hotel Room, but i like writing novels the best.
I Fears I don‘t want to repeat myself or what other people have already said. I’m afraid of death, but in life I’m guardedly optimistic.
I Income It’s comfortable enough that I don’t have to do anything else for a living. Since the age of 29 I’ve been able to suppon myself via my books which makes me very happy - I don’t need to be a bartender any more.
L‘ast Of The Savages by Jay Mclnemey is published by Bloomsbury at £16.99.
[MEIE— rrrcrruuto GAME
I The Return Of John Macnab Andrew Greig (Headline Review £16.99) Yes, that is the John Macnab of Buchan’s classic yarn. The legendary poacher has been revived by three pals who cope with their mid-thirties crises by attempting to emulate Buchan’s original trio.
In true derring-do fashion. Greig sweeps his heroes through the yarn as they make their ambitions public and
set about poaching a salmon, a brace of grouse and a stag from three Highland estates. This is far more than an update of the original, however. Greig introduces a fourth Macnab, Kirsty Fowler, into the equation. With her, the romance goes beyond that of heather and whisky to include more modern concerns of sexual relationships, land ownership and nationalism.
This is splendid, if wish-fulﬁlling stuff. Greig displays his full affection for the Highlands with a poet’s eye for detail and a visual prose style that leaves you unsurprised to discover that a screenplay is already on the way. (Thom Dibdin)
I Lite On A Dead Planet Frank Kuppner (Polygon £7.99) Glasgow-bom Frank Kuppner won the 1995 McVitie‘s award for Something Very Like Murder. His new novel conﬁrms his reputation as an original and irreverent talent. ‘I am trying to describe life. you unutterable half- wits,’ he says at one point. ‘What else do you think I am doing?’ One chapter lies incomplete with its ‘wonderful intended conclusion’ meant as a kind of punishment.
An anonymous narrator wanders the ' streets of an unknown city with Kuppner shufﬂing the cards of chance found at the beginning of the book to deal us snapshots of reality. Yet life as seen by his Mr Nemo refuses to stay still. becoming instead an endless kaleidoscope of possibilities. In this world the only sure thing is philosophical doubt.
Putting more emphasis on dense language than light wit, his plotless technique tends to get tiring. Here Kuppner pushes at the edges of ﬁction but remains ﬁrmly on planet Earth. (Marc Lambert)
STARS AND BARS
I [lead Glamorous Carole Morin (Victor Gollancz £12.99) As this true ﬁction testiﬁes, journalist and ﬁlm extra Carole Morin has had a pretty extraordinary life. Born into poverty in Glasgow’s East End, she reaped the rewards of her mother’s inheritance to be schooled in New York and indulge in champagne breakfasts with the rich and fatuous.
This book, with true-life characters embossed by names of the gravity of
Dangerous Donald (her husband) and Vagina (her aunt) is ajoy from its macabre opening to its poignant denouement. Film buffs, in particular, will have a ball with every other page inﬁltrated and enriched by the likes of a reference to Kim Novak’s grey suit in Vertigo or a critical examination on the kissability of Quentin Tarantino.
Others may ﬁnd it a little too knowing and more than a mite over-indulgent. But what the hey. It’s fun and it’s funny and will possibly ﬁnd a welcome spot in more than the odd airport lounge. '(Brian Donaldson)
I heading Inland (Faber and Faber £8.99) and Smell Holdings (Faber and Faber £5.99) both Nicola Barker. Pivoting on characters with manifold eccentricities. Barker’s writing is impishly bawdy with a lick of profundity. Heading Inland. her second short story collection. spits out pithy snapshots of ﬂeeting introspection and quirks of nature. Small Holdings, her second novel. turns a London park and its disparate employees into a microcosm of society. . I iioorl Emma Donoghue (Penguin £6.99) Sickeningly talented for one so young (27). Donoghue ﬂirted with non-ﬁction before the well-received publication of her debut novel Stir Fry. Hood charts Pen‘s attempts to cope with the car crash death of her sometime lover Cara. Spanning a humid week in Dublin. Pen gn'eves while deliberating their tumultuous relationship. her stiﬂing career and oft-hidden sexuality.
I Stepiorrl Husbands J ane Gordon (Signet £5.99) The tables have turned for the crown queen of 70s tack. It had to happen and it’s hilarious. Set in London and strewn with references to middle- class popular culture, it follows four successful but romantically disgruntled women who are offered ‘Manifold‘. a new American smart drug which will miraculously transform their partners. ideal beach fodder.
I The lieroln Users Tam Stewart (HarperCollins £8.99) With an unnerving matter-of-factness, an informative approach and just a hint of bitterness. ex- heroin addict Stewart lays the facts on the table. exploding myths and unearthing hidden traps. From the path to using. through addiction to kicking the habit and rehabilitation. hard facts are combined with personal experience to make a fascinating read.
I Best of Young American iiovelists Various (Granta £8.99) Having courted controversy with the 1993 Best of Young British Novelists. Granta takes on the USA. Eighteen established American authors judged which twenty under 40 made the grade. The ‘winners’, their talents ﬂaunted in these short stories and novel extracts. include UK-familiar names Lorrie Moore and Melanie Rae Thon while Elizabeth McCracken and Tome Earley are names to watch. (Susan Mackenzie)
I nichard ilell Wed 3 Jul, 6.30pm. John Smith’s, 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. The New York punk star reads from his new novel Go Now (Fourth Estate £5.99).
I Sarah Dunant Thurs 4 Jul. 6.30pm. Dillons. 174-76 Argyle Street, 248 4814. The rising star of crime ﬁction reads from her new novel Under My Skin (Penguin £5.99), the continuing adventures of female detective Hannah Wolf.
I Edwin Morgan Fri 5 Jul, 1-3pm. John Smith’s. 57 St Vincent Street, 221 7472. Recently seen at the Glasgow International Jazz Festival, Morgan reads a selection of his poems about Scottish wildlife which have been set to music by jazzman Tommy Smith. The resulting CD Beasts of Scotland will be on sale.
I Shore Poets Sun 30 Jun, 8pm. £1 (free). Fruitmarket Gallery. 45 Market Street, 225 2383. Poetry readings from John Burnside, Mark Ogle and Sandy Craigie, accompanied by music from Three Piece Suite.
I Christopher Brookmyre Mon 1 Jul. 6.30pm. James Thin, 57 George Street, 225 4495. Local author Brookmyre reads from his suspenseful debut novel Quite
Ugly One Monting (Little Brown £12.99). set in the world of NHS Trust corruption. I llna Session Tue 2 Jul, 7.30pm. £4 (£3). Romanian Cultural Centre, 166 High Street. 667 3397. A leading ﬁgure in Romanian literature for over 40 years. but exiled to America in 1985. Cassian’s poetry has been translated into many
I gunman National Poetry Tour Wed 3 Jul. 7.30pm. Fruitmarket Gallery. 29 Market Street. 225 2383. An evening of Scottish .poetry with Tom Bryan. Margaret Fulton Cook. George Gunn. Gordon Meade and Janet Paisley.
I Sarah onset and Mark lawson Wed 3 Jul, 7pm. Waterstone’s, 13/14 Princes Street, 556 3034. Former ‘Late Show' presenters Dunant and Lawson read from their recent novels Under My Skin (Penguin £5.99) and ldlewild (Picador £5.99) respectively.
I Canadian/American Poetry on Thurs 4 Jul, 7.30pm. Tickets £1.50 (50p on the door). Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market Street, 225 2383. One of Canada’s leading poets Barry McKinnon is joined by poet and scientist Ven Begemudre and American poet Rosa Alcala for an evening of Western verse. ’
I Fiona Cooper and Stella nutty Fri 5 Jul. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 13/14 Princes Street, 556 3034. As part of Waterstone’s
,‘Queer Readings’ series, Cooper reads
from her most recent book Blossom At The Mention Of Your Nante (Serpent‘s Tail £8.99), and Duffy from her new novel Wavewalker (Serpent’s Tail £7.99). Wine served.
I lieu Young Scottish Fiction Tue 9 Jul. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 13/ 14 Princes Street, 556 3034. Young Scottish authors Raffaella Barker (daughter of Elspeth) and Michael Cannon read from their second novels The Hook (Bloomsbury £14.99) and Conspiracy Of Hope (Serpent's Tail £8.99) respectively.
I Penguin lieu Gay Fiction Thurs 1 1 Jul. 7pm. Waterstone’s, 13/14 Princes Street. 556 3034. Waterstone’s wrap up their ‘Queen Readings’ series with Emma Donoghue, author of Stir-Fry, talking about her latest paperback Hood (Penguin £6.99), and William Sutcliffe. reading from his debut novel set in the perilous sixth forrn New Boy (Penguin £6.99). Wine served.
I Reynold Sonnet - One Man Show Mon 1 Jul, 8pm. £2 (£1). Paisley Arts Centre, New Street, 887 1010. The award- winning writer reads sections from his often controversial short stories. published in Rebel Inc and the HarperCollins Scottish Short Stories Collection, 1996.
Part of the Paisley Festival.