THE WHITE STUFF
Winner of the controversial Orange Prize For Fiction for her novel A Spell In Winter, Helen Dunmore speaks to Ann Donald.
lane Helen Dunmore. Age 43. Previous Jobs I've always been a writer apart from a two-year stint after trniversity in Finland as a TEFL teacher. In my early twenties I had poetry published and started doing workshops and residencies. so writing has really been my life for the last twenty years. Route to becoming a writer It's hard to say really because I‘ve always known that's what I wanted to do. so it was really just a matter of seizing opportunities and finding out ways of getting published. oaily routine I have a small child so I really have to be organised with her. Someone comes in to look after her noon—4pm while I work and when she goes to bed I'll work in the evenings. Then of course when I’m travelling and doing readings it‘s a completely different routine altogether. Inﬂuences I‘m a great reader so I suppose I have lots of inﬂuences that are incredibly important to me and that have all assimilated over the years. When I was younger the great Russian authors like Turgenev and Tolstoy were especially inﬂuential and British authors like Graham Greene. Contemporary authors whom I like include Alan Warner. Hilary Mantel. Jeanette Winterson. Stevie Davis. Andrew Cowan and Pat Barker. Ambitions I've never wanted to jump out a plane or anything like that. My ambitions are really that I hope my books will be durable. Fears It would be a great mistake to give my fears away because it feels as if you're inviting something to happen. Income That is the sort of thing I'd only ever discuss with close friends rather than talk about it in public. Helen Dunmore is latest novel Talking To The Dead is published by Viking at £ [2. 99.
IEIIEE_ PRIVATE [IVES
I Wavewallter Stella Duffy (Sei'pent's Tail £8.99) Private investigating used to be a job for the boys. You remember the type — world-weary. tough-talking Bogart clones. with an incipient alcohol problem and a soft spot for a sister with a sob story.
In the 90s. sisters are doing it for themselves. Today‘s p.i. tends to be female. professional. highly sexed. nrore private dyke than private dick. Her name is Saz Martin and she's the heroine of lV(lI'(’II'(l//\'(’I'.
Stella Duffy‘s second novel is an
inquiry into the bitter dregs of faded 60s idealism. Martin is hired by a mysterious client to look into the work of Dr Maxwell North. a new age guru married to an English upper class rose. It will not surprise you to learn that it all ends in murder.
What distinguishes IVui‘eii'u/ker front the norm is Duffy‘s double narrative. pacing Saz‘s investigations with a contemporaneous account of the crimes at the book‘s heart. The result is a transatlantic. time-hopping story that satisfies as a crime novel and displays the lightest of pc touches.
Of course purists may frown at the healthiness of Ms Martin's attitude and sex life. but that‘s progress for you. (Teddy Jamieson)
BEHIND THE PROPAGANDA
I A Portrait Of lent ntetenstahl Audrey Salkeld (Jonathan Cape £I8.99) Triumph ()[The Will and Olympiad earned Leni Riefenstahl her place in the history of film. with their rhythmic. contrapuntal editing and stylised photography. And it is the power with which they portrayed the I934 Nuremberg Rally and the I936 ()Iympics — combined with the fact that she directed them at Hitler‘s request — that has denied her a place in the history books.
Although Riefenstahl‘s name became almost inextricably linked with the Third Reich after World War II. there was more to her than these two classics of propaganda. Audrey Salkeld seeks neither to condemn Riefenstahl nor to provide a revisionist account of her life. Rather. she tries to understand these links.
This book is a compelling portrait of a wilful and talented woman who continued to work despite the Nazis‘ almost total subjugation of women. Trained as a dancer. Riefenstahl was first a star and subsequently a director of the Berg/ilme genre. She helped pioneer many of the innovative techniques necessary for their mountain locations. Although favoured by Hitler. she was never a Nazi Party member and made an enemy of Goebbels.
Salkeld picks tip the anomalies between Riefenstahl‘s diaries and other contemporary accounts. attempting to ascertain whether she was a pawn or a player. While the answer is still murky — Riefenstahl was probably not blameless and certainly naive — Salkeld at least affords her the recognition she is due while providing a fascinating account ofthe pre-war German film industry and a part of the culture from which Hitler drew his power. (Thom Dibdin)
I The Shadow Man Mary Gordon (Bloomsbury £ I 6.99) For over 40 years novelist Mary Gordon‘s image of her father. who died when she was seven. was of the greatest man she had ever known. Poet. Harvard scholar. writer and publisher. he was supposed to be the centre of her universe. the bedrock of her identity.
And yet hardly anything she knew about him was true. Driven to investigate his past and following clues
she had previously tried to ignore. she unearths an altogether different man. Deeply contradictory. he was a Jew turned Catholic anti-Semite. and a publisher of soft porn as well as children’s magazines. A rabid McCarthyite. he had never been anywhere near Harvard.
Piece by piece Gordon's idol crumbles away. What endures in this finer written and painfully honest memoir is her love for him. In laying to rest his ghost. Gordon discovers how familial memory is largely fiction and how all our identities are in some way assumed.
I Ilugti oouglas Thurs i8 Jul. 6.30pm. John Smiths. 57 St Vincent Street. 22| 7472. Douglas reads from his new Burns biography The Tim/er Heart (A Sutton £I9.99). published to commemorate the bi-centenary of the Bard's death.
I Integration Sat 20 Jul. 7.30pm. Free. CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 0522. An evening of performance poetry. resulting from a week of workshops held with London-based performance poet Jade Reidy.
I Ilugti Douglas Wed 24 Jul. 7.30pm. Burns Room. Mitchell Library. North Street. 287 2933. The author talks about and signs copies of his new biography of Robert Burns The Tim/er Heart (A Sutton
£ (9.99). casting a new light on the women in Rabbie’s life.
I Hugh Douglas Mon I5 Jul. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The author of the original BIII'IM' Supper Coin/mnimi talks about his new Burns biography The 'Iimler Heart (A Sutton £19.99). Wine and whisky served.
I Edward Bunker Tue 23 Jul. 7pm. Cameo. Home Street. 228 4 I4 I. Tickets £5 (£4) from Cameo or Waterstone‘s. I3 Princes Street. 556 3034. Crime writer and actor Bunker (alias Mr Blue) reads from his new book Dog Eat Dug (No Exit £I2.99). followed by screenings of Straight lime (written by Bunker) and Reservoir Dogs. plus a Q & A with The Lixt's very own film editor Alan Morrison.
I Burning Your Boats Angela Carter (Vintage £8.99) The complete collection of short stories. tlirs volitiiie encapsulates Fireworks. V/i/H' li/mnli' ('lruiii/n'r. “It/(A I'enui and .‘llllt‘l'lt (III (i/IU\I\ (Hill ()/(I II'or/i/ IIbm/t'ri plus the detritus of newsprint. magazines and radio. and an articulate and moving I'orw ard by Saliiian Rushdie. Iixolic. erotic and enchanted. Carter's recurring symbolism and themes are highlighted. her consistently extraordinary talent celebrated.
I The Information Mai-rm :\IIII\ (I‘Iamingo £6.99) ()riginal. dauling and perceptive or tedious. irritating and overlong'.’ Iissentially. Amis's e\plot'atiolr ol'jealousy and retribution. in which writer Richard Tull is tormented by the glory of his friend and enemy (iwyn Barry. is a lt()\t‘l of personal taste which w ill sway neither camp - friend or foe. ()ii the Iliptpancy I side. how 0 er. the Jacket is a stroke of design brilliance.
I Independence Day Richard l'oi'tl (Ilai'vill £6.99) Winner of the I995 Pulitzer Prize. this is the sequel to The Spur/\ri'r/ter. trunk is now a happily di\orccd real estate agent looking forward to the Independence Day holiday weekend with his mildly unstable son. Iivents.
Iiow ex er. take a startling turn. .»\ detailed slice of riiodern America. this is a slow burner which tritiinplis.
I Bunker Man Duncan .\Icl.ean (\‘intage £5.99) Ilntil now a welcoiiiingly unique voice. a disheartening familiarity in the form (It. \ iolcnce illltl viccs signals McLean's aspirations to commercialisiii. Nonetheless. don’t w rite ltu/iit'r .Ilun off. Set it) the north-east. it charts Rob‘s increasing obsession w till a stranger III town. a man of unknown niotiyes who is swiftly branded a peryert.
I I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol (ilen Matlock w rtli I’eter Silvei‘ton (Virgin £9.99) Milk that money cow I "This is ll()\\' it really w as' or so they say. 'Reviving old (avoirr‘ites' is the coy press release billing for the ﬁlthy I.uci‘e tour but this reads like a Richard Allen novel. I-tinny and ludicrous. from Mel .aren to Nuliuiiii'it/e. all the old legends are here.
I Skinned Alive Iidrnund White (Picador £6.99) A prolific \oice in the field of gay writing. this short story collection takes White on an expansiye tour of time and place. Despite dealing with the problematic nature of relationships. not least the threat of HIV and AIDS. a certain joy prevails.
I Paint It Black Mark Tirnlin (Vista £4.99) Darling of the style press. Tirnlin unashamedly exploits classic American pulp fiction. with over a dozen books devoted to his English hardman. Nick Sharnian. This time round Sharman‘s off the wagon and on the straight and narrow. But when his fourteen-year-old daughter goes missing. the search draws him back into the underworld. (Susan Mackenzie)
OO The List l2-25 Jul I996