* REVIEW so'_§_oit
THE WRITE STUFF
Novelist Patrick McGrath is the literary offspring of Poe and Baudelaire. He talks to Ann Donald about a childhood spent in Broadmoor.
Ilame Patrick John McGrath.
Prevlous lobs I've worked in mental hospitals in England and Canada. as a musician. school teacher. graduate student. researcher and social worker. Route to becoming a writer I‘d gone to Canada when l was 21 after college and drifted around for seven or eight years before ﬁnally giving in to a romantic notion and the irresponsible impulse to living in North West British Columbia. I then began writing a novel which turned into three novels. all of which were rejected. and then 1 ﬁnally made it with short stories.
Inﬂuences I think the most obvious inﬂuence was the fact that my childhood was spent near Broadmoor Hospital where my father worked as a medical superintendent. I started to like novelists who kept to darker. psychological themes — the 19th century Gothic novelists such as Poe. Bronte and Stoker. as well as Roben Louis Stevenson. Melville and Faulkner. In an indirect way 1 may be inlluenced by movies.
Ambitions I suppose it would be to keep a steady output as a novelist. I‘d like to write a successful screenplay and since I‘ve been happily married for the last ﬁve years I'd like that to conﬁnue.
Income I‘m probably well-off by writers‘ standards.
Asylum is the new novel by Patrick McGrath. published by Viking at [/6.
I The Invisible Country Paul McAuley (Gollancz £16.99) In a summer in which Hollywood‘s latest blockbuster Independence Day tarted up the hoariest old cliches in a big budget overcoat, it's good to be reminded that science ﬁction. at its best. is a ﬁction of ideas.
Scottish-based writer Paul McAuley‘s collection of short stories splices into the same vein of future urban noir as William Gibson and his cyberpunk contemporaries. albeit from a British
perspective. But for Gibson’s fascination with software and mainframes. substitute genetics and biotechnology.
McAuley fast forwards from the ethical dilemmas of contemporary science to the day after tomorrow when genetically engineered ‘dolls' are used as slaves. sport and sex toys by humanity. The result is a series of chilling twists on the Frankenstein story.
Apart from one rather dull excursion into the far future. this is a dizzying and disturbing collection which serves to remind readers of SF‘s true potential. (Teddy Jarnieson)
I Sweet Sweetbaclt’s Baadasssss Song Melvin Van Peebles (Payback £14.99) The legacy of Melvin Van Peebles‘s groundbreaking movie stretches through modern black cinema like the sexy silibants of its title. Sweetbr'ck not only paved the way for Hollywood's bandwagon-jumping blaxploitation scenarios. it has endured as the reference point for Spike Lee and the new wave of young black ﬁlmmakers in the early 90s.
This Payback package consists of the pared down screenplay and the much
I A little Yellow Dog Walter Mosley (limited edition signed hardback £12.99. from Waterstone's only; paperback £8.99 available from 26 Sept. both Serpent‘s Tail) Easy Rawlins returns in the ﬁfth of Mosley's dark thrillers. It is 1963. the year of Kennedy's assassination. and in California. Easy is coerced back onto the street in search of the killer of his lover's brother-in-law. America has moved on since his adventures in Black Betty and in a more liberal society.
sought after soundtrack CD (featuring Earth. Wind And Fire and cool dialogue clips that predate Tarantino by two decades). as well as the more detailed shooting script and production journals which detail ﬁnancial troubles and political ideals.
Van Peebles coined the term ‘edutainment‘ and this book puts his beliefs into action: it entertains potential ﬁlmmakers while informing them of independent tricks. and informs casual readers of wider social agendas while entertaining them with a wicked sense of humour. (Alan Mom'son)
drugs have become an everyday reality.
This is genre writing at its best. Mosley has complete understanding and control of the thriller form. using pace and timing to page-turning effect in a plot which positively wriggles with red herrings and unexpected turns. But it is the sense of place and time which set it apart. Easy’s experiences may symbolise those of every male Afro- Arnerican. yet the character is written with such humanity and veracity that you are compelled to identify with him and feel the racism he experiences. (Thom Dibdin)
I ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ What?’ Thurs 5 Sept. 7.30pm. Free. Mitchell Library. North Street. 287 2933. Panel discussion on the life and work of Robert Burns. with A. L. Kennedy. Moira Burgess. Donny O‘Rourke and Paul Scott.
I Edna O’Brien Tue 10 Sept. 7pm. Dillons. l74-l76 Argyle Street. 248 4814. Free. The Irish novelist reads from and discusses her new book Down By The River (Weidenfeld & Nicolson £15.99).
I IIobert Itoad Wed 11 Sept. 7pm. John Smiths. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Road reads from and signs copies of his new book Red And Yellow Forever (GD Comm £8.99). the story of Partick Thistle. I William Mcllvanney Wed 1 I Sept. 7.30pm. Citizens' Theatre. 119 Gorbals Street. 429 0022. Tickets (free) from all branches of Waterstone‘s. The Whitbread Prize-winning author reads from his ﬁrst novel in four years The Kiln (Sceptre £15.99).
I lIobert Llewellyn Fri 13 Sept. 1pm. Dillons. l74—176 Argyle Street. 248 4814. Free. The comedian and Red Dwarf star (Kryten). signs copies of his new autobiography Thin He Was, And F ilthy- Haired (Penguin £5.99).
I IIelI Salmon Tue 17 Sept. 1pm. Free. Dillons. 174-176 Argyle Street. 248 4814. The popular graphic novelist signs copies of his new book based on the BBC series Neverwhere (BBC £9.99).
I Star Trek Party Wed 18 Sept. 7pm. Dillons. l74-I76 Argyle Street. 248 4814.
Brush up your Klingon and head down to Dillons for an evening of competitions. video screenings. promotional give-aways and more.
I Society or Author: In Scotland Wed 18 Sept. 6.30pm. John Smiths. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Guest speakers Donny O'Rourke. Brian Morton and James Irvine discuss 'Writers and Broadcasting — Open Sesame or Closed Doors?‘
I Poems & PInts Fri 6 Sept. 7.30pm. The West End Hotel. Palmerston Place. 337 8277. £1.50 (£1). The Edinburgh Writers Association present an evening of poetry readings from Hamish Henderson. plus floorspots.
I Bernice nubens Tue 10 Sept. 7pm. Waterstone's. 13/ 14 Princes Street. 556 3034. The Booker Prize-winning author of Madame Sousatzka reads from her latest novel Yesterday In The Back Lane (Abacus £6.99).
I William Mcllvanney Thurs 12 Sept. 7pm. £3 (£1 redeemable against the book). Assembly Rooms. George Street. 220 4349. Tickets from all Waterstone's branches. The acclaimed author reads from his new novel The Kiln (Sceptre £15.99). the follow-up to his Whitbread Prize-winning book Docherty.
I Edna O’Brien Thurs 12 Sept. 7.30pm. Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436. Free. The Irish novelist reads from and discusses her new book Down By The River (Weidenfeld & Nicolson £15.99). I Itell Batman Mon 16 Sept. 7pm. Free. Waterstone's. 13/14 Princes Street. 556
3034. The popular graphic novelist signs
1 copies of his new book based on the BBC ' series Neverwhere (BBC £9.99).
I Colin Tolbin and Alex Benzie Tue 17 Sept. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 13/14 Princes Street. 556 3034. The Irish novelist and travel writer reads from his ambitious new novel Tire Story Of The Night (Picador £15.99). accompanied by Scottish author Alex Benzie whose epic novel The Year’s Midnight (Penguin £6.99) is now available in paperback. I John MacLeod Tue 17 Sept. 7pm. James Thin. 53-59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The launch of MacLeod's new book Highlanders: A History Of The Gaels (Hodder £20). I IIobert llewellyn and IIIgeI Planer Wed 18 Sept. 7pm. Free. Waterstone‘s. 13/14 Princes Street. 556 3034. Red Dwarfs Kryten and Neil from The Young Ones turn their hands to writing. with this new book of tales from the psychiatrist's couch. Therapy And How 72) Avoid It! (Hodder £9.99). Llewellyn also reads from his new autobiography Thin He Was, And Filthy-Haired (Penguin £5.99). See Frontlines. I language Workshop Wed 18 Sept. 7pm. James Thin. 53-59 South Bridge. 556 6743. John Mclnnes and Robert Mullaly of Edinburgh University's Celtic Department introduce Gaelic In Three Months. I Clair MacDonald Thurs 19 Sept. 7pm. Waterstone’s. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. The Scotsman cookery correspondent reads from her new collection of recipes Suppers (Transworld).
I Notes From A Small Island Bill Bryson (Black Swan £6.99) A perceptive travel writer. Bryson has recently retumed to his native America after eighteen years in the UK. His legacy is this account of his ﬁnal. public transport tour round the island. his mission to pinpoint what makes Britain great. Observing the absurdities and archaisrns of the nation with style. the result is. above all. hilarious.
I The Year’s Midnight Alex Benzie (Penguin £7.99) This breath-taking doorstop of a debut establishes. thirtysomething Glaswegian Benzie as a name to watch. A queer tale set in a small Scottish village. it begins in the 18th century with a hanging which incites the locals to destroy the clocktower. A century later. its repair creates obsession and irrational reactions.
I Whit Iain Banks (Abacus £6.99) lsis Whit is the sharp but naive granddaughter of the head of a small. strange Stirlingshire cult. When cousin Morag leaves the fold. Isis must brave the outside world to locate her before the four-yearly Festival of Love. Spiritually and socially expansive writing grouted with unique minutiae makes this thoroughly Banks Brand.
I In Bed With An Elephant Ludovic
. Kennedy (Corgi £6.99) Taking its title
from Canadian President Trudeau’s comment that sharing a land mass with a richer and more powerful neighbour was like sleeping with an elephant. this combines memoir with historical events and contemporary politics to record the development of Scotland. and its chequered relationship with England. Kennedy's conversational tone and tale- telling talents make it a winner.
I The Misslng Andrew O'Hagan (Picador £5.99) Defying genre in a Frank Kuppner vein. The Missing is the 28-year-old Guardian and Esquire scribe's debut book. exploring the circumstances and ultimate fate of Britain’s missing people. A chilling combination of the mundane and extraordinary. personal memoir and real-life cases. from Bible John to Cromwell Street. this says much about the state of the nation. (Susan Mackenzie)
I Albert Spoor: 1118 Battle With Truth Gitta Sereny (Picador £9.99) An award- winning biography of the most enigmatic of Hitler's Sidekicks. by a writer whose ﬁrst contact with her subject was observing him during the Nuremberg war crimes trial. The book is based on twelve years of research. during which Sereny met Speer. who. until his death in 1981. claimed ignorance of the extermination of the Jews. Whatever the emotions provoked by the protestations of Hitler’s right-hand man. this book sheds much- needed light on the Nazi elite. at least attempting to understand the psyche behind their heinous acts.
The List 6-19 Sept 1996 75