THE WRITE STUFF
Michael Dibdin, author of the Auralio Zen mysteries, talks to Thom Dibdin.
Name Michael Dibdirr.
Previous jobs An English language teacher. Painter arid decorator for four years when I got together with an American draft dodger in Canada and we formed a company called Acme Painting and Decorating. after the Road Runner cartoon.
Iloute to becoming a writer Sheer pig— headedness. I started writing when I was ﬁfteen and produced three huge. insanely arrrbitious. not to say frankly pretentious. unpublishable novels. I did take fairly long periods. for example the painting and decorating period. when I took myself into the bathroom and had a stem talk with myself in the mirror and said: “look. enough of this wanking around. it is time to get real!" The problem was sooner or later I would be painting some ceiling when characters and plots and ideas would start evolving in my mind.
Dally routine Get up. have a cup of coffee. go into the garden and look at whatever is happening. then try and put in four or five hours‘ writing. I always remember Chandler‘s thing about writer’s block: you have to spend time at your writing position. it doesn’t matter if you don't write anything. just so long as you don't do anything else. Influences I have been influenced by everyone I have ever read and I read veraciously when I was young. Ambitions To be able to go on making a living from writing.
Fears Not to be able to go on making a living from writing. I wake up in terror that this will be the day when I go in. sit down. have no ideas, stare at the screen and think “huh. who wrote this. what is this book, what am I doing here?"
Income I feel slightly embarrassed about this. let's just say it is enough to live on.
Michael Dibdin Is latest Aurelio Zen mystery Cosi Fan Tutti is published by Faber and Faber at £14. 99.
I Danziger’s Britain Nick Danziger (HarperCollins £ I 8) Writer Nick Danziger is best known for his travels abroad. but as he notes in this book. a journey through some of Britain‘s worst-hit areas. including Glasgow and Sutherland: ‘If you never leave town you would be surprised at what you can find.‘ This is social reportage itr the tradition of George Orwell and Jack London. spotlighting the deprivation that exists under our very noses. and
largely ignored by politicians.
Yet much of what Danziger recounts about the bleak lives and landscapes he observes — well illustrated by photographs from his recent exhibition — is already tnore than familiar. It is common knowledge that Glasgow. with its chronic housing. drug arid employment problems. is indistinguishable from Newcastle. London or other parts of Britain. Rather. it is the sheer resilience of its people — mostly the womenfolk — and their true grit under huge pressure. which shines through. (Marc Lambert)
BEHI_ our on snow
I Showgirls Andrea Stuart (Jonathan Cape £I8.99) Public regard for the showgirl's profession has plummeted of late thanks to Paul Verhoeven‘s apology for a film that goes by the same sobriquet. Andrea Stuart‘s study retrieves the term from ignorniny. charting the showgirl‘s evolution from the back streets of Paris and New York. The life and times of its leading lights makes for breathless enlightenment.
As Stuart tells it. the incendiary power of woman-as female-impersonator
THE HISTORY MAKER I Making History Stephen Fry (I'ItllCililISOn £l5.99) A year on from his unscheduled European tour. Stephen Fry has released his third novel. As with his public persona. Making History is instantly likeable. terriny witty and a cunning mix of high-brow (the Cliosophical Society. Wagner) and popular culture (Oasis. Cabaret).
The seemineg mapped-out life of historian Michael Young is split apart
Jusel Szalkl Sat 2I Sept. 9pm. The Arches. Midland Street. 22I 9736. As part of the Gogol Festival. Szafki reads from his re-working of Diary ()fA Mat/ Man (£4.99). The play will be performed beforehand at 8pm — see Theatre listings. John Macleod Tue 24 Sept. 6.30pm. John Smith’s. 57 St Vincent Street. 22I 7472. M acleod reads from his new book Highlanders: A History Oj'T/te Gaels (Hodder £ I 8).
Earl lovelace Tue 24 Sept. 8pm. Clutha Vaults. I67 Stockwell Street. 552 7520. The launch of Lovelace's new book Salt. with accompniment from guest musicians. David Baddiel Thurs 26 Sept. Iprn. Dillons. 174—76 Argyle Street. 248 48 I4. The fortner Mary White/rouse Experience member and Fantasy Football host reads from his debut novel Time For Bed (Little Brown £I2.99).
David Thomson Thurs 26 Sept. 5.45pm. Glasgow Film Theatre. I2 Rose Street. 332 8 I28. Thomson reads from his new book Rosebud: The Story Of Orson Welles (Little Brown £20). and introduces a screening of the legendary Citizen Kane. Antonio Carluccto Thurs 26 Sept. 7pm. £5 (£3 off book). John Smith‘s. 57 St Vincent Street. 22] 7472. The celebrated chef talks about his new book Antonio Carluccio's Italian Feast (BBC 52 I799). Wine and buffet served.
Andrew O’Hagan Thurs 3 Oct. 6.30pm. John Smith's. 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. The author reads from his huger
can't be overstated: Mae West was jailed in I927 for her stage play Sex; students fought police and clergy in Vienna as the Austrian parliament debated the arrival of rrrulatto showgirl Josephine Baker in I928. Celebrity showgirls Mistinguette. Collette. and Marlene Dietrich gloried in S&M and mock-lesbian artistry that heguiled royalty and rabble alike. while enraging suffragettes and rnoralists.
Written with panache that bridges the academic-tabloid divide. Shortgirls reminds us that Madonna. while she may drip wax. can't hold a candle to these heroines of hyperfetnininity. (Deirdre Molloy)
on meeting elderly physicist Leo Zuckermann whose obsession with the Holocaust leads both to question the past. present and. yup. the future. What if you could change the path ofevents so that the name of Hitler would mean nothing and Dachau was only known as a quaint tourist spot? Familiar territory maybe. btrl Fry injects enough twists and intelligence to keep the interest level above water.
And if you required any evidence that Stephen Fry is happier with himself. take a look at the back cover on which he is having a fair old chuckle. (Brian Donaldson)
successful book The Missing (Picador £6.99). now out in paperback.
Burns The Songwriter Thurs 3 ()ct. 7.30pm. Burns Roortr. Mitchell Library. North Street. 287 2933. The library continue their ‘Burns ‘96' programme with this talk from Bob Cratnpsey.
Andrew O’Hagan and lint lott Tue 24 Sept. 7pm. Free. Waterstone‘s. I3/ I4 Princes Street. 556 3034. Lou reads from The Scent OfDrietl Roses (Viking £ I6). shortlisted for this year‘s Waterstone‘sEsquire non-fiction prize. while O‘Hagan talks about his enormously well received book The Missing (Picador £6.99).
Sapphire Tue 24 Sept. 7.30pm. Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436. The woman currently taking the New York literary scene by storm reads frotn her first novel Push (Seeker and Warburg £9.99).
Joltn Bleslttortl-Snell and Rule lenslta Wed 25 Sept. 7pm. Free. Waterstone's. I3/ l4 Princes Street. 556 3034. The conservationist and actress duo give an illustrated talk on their TV documentary and book Mammoth Hunt: In Search Of The Giant Elephant OfNepal (HarperCollins £ I6.99).
Mme Bincly Thurs 26 Sept. 7pm (not 25 Sept as published in Waterstone‘s leaﬂet). £3 (£I off book). Traverse Theatre. Cambridge Street. Tickets from Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. One of Britain's most successful novelists reads from her new book
I Full Whack Charles Higson (Abacus £6.99) A comedic criminal caper from the eo-crealor of The First Show. this may never grace literary short Ieets bttt is an entertaining. easy read. Ten years after having decided to go straight. Dennis ‘The Menace‘ Pike's personal fortune vanishes. forcing him to cotrfront his preposterous shady past. and a total nutter called Terry.
I Thin He Was And Filthy-Haired Robert Llewellyn (Penguin £5.99) The autobiography of Llewellyn's career as Kryten in Red Dwarf/is already in prirrl. btrt what of his pre-prosthetics past'.’ This insight records teenage angst. apathy and catastrophe played out against an early 70s backdrop of cotntrrune-dwelling. drug-addled. sex-fuelled idealism arid downfall. Well recalled. this reads like a novel and is worth a look.
I Island Race John McCarthy and Satrdi Toksvig (Petrguin £6.99) The combination of boring bloke McCarthy and squirrel on speed Toksvig made hellish television viewing. It is a pleasing anotrraly. therefore. that the 'book of the series' is a decent read. A funtry atrd informative diary-ster documentation of their three- tnonlh sailitrg trip round the coast of Britain. it suffers only in being slightly dispersonal.
I The Indoor Boy Antony Sher (Abacus £6.99) Leon Lipschitl. is a wealthy. white. London-based. South African. bisexual Jew with an over-fondness for drink and drugs. Unsurpt'isingly. he has sonre problems. A new relationship with youthful Afrikaner Gertijie combined with a visit to a metamorphosing South Africa are the circumstances needed to catapult his life to new levels. Original atrd etrgaging.
I Morality Play Barry Unsworth (Penguin £5.99) Initially intimidating. this I995 Booker nominee is quickly gripping and ultinrately stunning. In the |4th century. a band of travelling players accompanied by a non-confortnist cleric arrive III a town where a young woman is to be hanged for child murder. They decide to re-enact the murder. but rehearsals uncover deeper mysteries. (Susan Mackenzie)
Evening Class (Orion £ 16.99).
David Baddiel Thurs 26 Sept. 7.30pm. £3 (£I off book). George Square Theatre. Tickets from Waterstone‘s. I3/I4 Princes Street. 556 3034. The I'tllllllsl' Fool/tall star and one half of comedic duo Newman and Baddiel reads from his debut novel Time For Betl (Little Brown £ I 2.99). Hick Danziger Thurs 26 Sept. 7.30pm. £2 (redeemable against book). BBC Studios. 5 Queen Street. Tickets from Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436. The award-winning travel writer. photographer and broadcaster reads from his new book documenting the bleaker side of Britain's towns I)an:iger's Britain (HarperCollins £I8).
Margaret Atwood Fri 27 Sept. 7pm. £3 (£I off book). Traverse Theatre. Cambridge Street. Tickets frorn Waterstone's. I28 Princes Street. 226 2666. The author of The Ham/maid Is Tale reads from. and signs copies of. her new novel Alias Grace (Bloomsbury £ I 5.99). Shore Poets Fruitmarket Gallery. 45 Market Street. 225 2383. I—I Iptn. Full day: £3 (£2); Halfday: £3 (£I). The Poets celebrate their fifth birthday with an all- day poetry bonanza featuring showcases. multi-media poetry. open readings. competitions and a reading from prize- winning Scots poet Kathleen Jamie. Andrew Kain Thurs 3 Oct. 7pm. Free. James Thin. 53-59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Kain tells you how to protect your home and hang on to your wallet with his new book on personal and domestic security The SAS Security Ham/book (Heinernann £16.99).
The List 20 Sept-3 Oct I996 81