THE WRITE STUFF
Siri Hustvedt returns to the small-town, surreal landscape of her mid-West childhood in her second book The Enchantment 0f Lily Dahl. The novelist and wife of writer Paul Auster speaks to Brian Donaldson.
Name Siri Hustvedt
Age 4 I
Previous Jobs 1 have been a waitress. a clerk in stores. and art English teacher at Queen‘s College. And a student which. I guess. is a form of ajob. Route to becoming a writer I always fantasised about becoming a writer or a painter frotn about the third grade. I had one teacher in particular who somehow thought that I could do it. I also had really nice parents. Part of the ball game is having the conﬁdence and desire to do it as well as the doubts and miseries. They somehow go together. Daily routine 1 write five days a week. Monday to Friday. frotn about nine until about two or three. just like a regular job. When I wrote poetry 1 would maybe get an idea on the subway and rush to write it down but when writing a novel 1 often write in my mind before going to sleep and then I seem to be able to retain a lot for the next day. This book took four and a half years. the ﬁrst was four. I'm slow but who knows. maybe the next one will be faster. You can cross your fingers for me.
Inﬂuences Probably the most important would be a lot of 19th century novelists like Henry James and George Eliot filtering through to modernists like Kafka.
Ambitions I think just to live long enough to write more books and get old enough to see grandchildren - like most people in the world.
Fears This is something I think about a lot because of my work. I fear malice in other people or cruelty and the sudden irreparable accident — if you walk out and a bus runs over you or if you lose your child. That sudden thing which happens to people all the time and 1 don‘t want it to happen to me.
Income Let tne put it this way. both myself and my husband have made enough to have a fatnin and live and still be writers. We have more money than we ever imagined to allow us to live and be what we want to be.
Tlte Enchantment ()fLily Dahl is published by Sceptre at £12.
EXPOSINO TNE ALIEN
I David Bowie: living On The Brink George Tremlett (Century £16.99); David Bowie: loving The Alien Christopher Sandford (Little. Brown £16.99) It would seem that David Bowie‘s artistic. if not commercial. rebirth is sufﬁcient grounds for two additions to a market which was hardly starved of biographies in the ﬁrst place. Tremlett. Bn'tain‘s ﬁrst ever freelance pop journalist. beneﬁts from having had unrestricted access to Bowie in his early years. but his career as an author of seventeen rock biogs shows up in a creaky. plodding style. and his fascination with Bowie dwindles in proportion to the author‘s presence in the star's life. After a strong opening
sprint, he seems gradually to lose interest in his subject. eventually compressing the last ﬁfteen years into a mere 50 pages.
Sandford, a veteran of the rock biog himself, writes more authoritatively about the actual music. but never gets close to the star himself. Both bring home the fact that the glacial superstar has spent most of his life not being a terribly nice. or together. person; and where the two accounts don't duplicate each other they can completely contradict. The gnome gets. as it were. the last laugh. You pays your money and you takes your choice. but stylistically Sandford has the edge. Plus. he appears to have uncovered the true inspiration for the character of Major Tom. a revelation worth waiting all these years for. (Alastair Mabbott)
I The laws 01 Our Fathers Scott Turow (Viking £16) Judge Sonia Klonsky is in for a bit ofa difﬁcult trial when the son of an old acquaintance appears before her. charged with conspiring to tnurder his mother in a drug-related shooting on the pavement of a Chicago housing project. Her problems are compounded when his lawyer turns out to be another friend from the 60s. and her ex. now a high- ﬁying joumalist. arrives to watch the case.
A former federal prosecutor and
PASS THE OUONIE
I My Story: Sarah, nuchess oi York with Jeff Conlon (Simon & Schuster £15.99) Students of bizarre metaphors may come to regard this heavily ghost- written autobiography as a modem classic — few can match the beleaguered Duchess‘s ability to create a memorable analogy. Throughout the book. she likens herself to a horse. the sea and — a touch of genius this — a Ferrari. At least they all refer to a consistent theme of regret. but even here. Fergie can’t decide who’s at fault for her one-way journey to notorietv.
author of Presumed Innocent. Turow has created a story with a slow start. it is worth the wait though. when he begins merging elements of the political. historical and social thriller with tense courtroom drama. Jumping back and forth between the politically violent 60s and socially violent 90s — with a blast of violence frotn the Nazi concentration camps added for good measure — the effect is occasionally contrived. but ultimately creates a compelling read in which not just the laws. but also the mistakes of our parents echo through the generations. (Thom Dibdin)
Between bouts of contrition. she apportions equal blame on the ‘grey men at Buck House‘ and scheming friends. She even regards her own ‘inner demons‘ as a malevolent and uncontrollable third party. But nothing here will rufﬂe establishment feathers. which must be a blow to the publishers. it might have created a sensation ten years ago. but the book's royal forelock-tugging can‘t disguise the fact that Fergie doesn‘t actually matter any more. (Tom Gorham)
Sarah Ferguson is at Dillon '3‘. Glasgott' on Tue 3 Dec.
Familiar to television viewers in the shape of Clive Owen. private detective Nick Sharman has been skulking around South London in Mark Timlin's novels for years. The short stories in Shannan And Other Filth (Vista £5.99) are like a contemporary version of The Sweeney on steroids. The longest piece. ‘Filth‘. features a nihilistic hero caught up in as brutal a heist as was ever put on paper. clirnaxing in a bloodbath that makes the end of Hamlet seem overpopulated.
Although packaged as a novel. James Sallis's Moth (No Exit Press £4.99) is tnore a series of overlapping. character- driven encounters centring on reluctant investigator uw Griffen. The lot of the black good gtiy doesn‘t seem to have improved since Easy Rawlins faced up to life after World War 11. as Griffen descends into a hell of crack-addicted babies. casual violence and untenable relationships. Bleak to the point of despaiL
As a debut novel. James Gabriel Berman‘s Uninvited (Fourth Estate £4.99) betrays stylistic immaturity. its reportage approach strives for emotional detachment but. in fact. cancels out any reader concern over the main character's guilt or innocence. Chapters alternate between one man‘s life-long. increasingly unbalanced obsession over a woman and his dialogues with a blowhard lawyer.
Berman could learn much from Joe R. Lansdale. whose Cold In July (Indigo £5.99) begins like a car accelerating at top pace. bttt still manages to shift up a couple of gears at key moments in the plot. The story of an ordinary man forced to team up with the father of the burglar he killed in self-defence. it combines an examination of surrogate father/son bonding with all the moral weight that should go hand in hand with vigilante actions. When it comes to modern pulp ﬁction. Lansdale is the kingpin. the boss ofthe bunch. (Alan Morrison)
Martin Foreman Tue 3 Dec. 6.30pm. John Smith's. 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. Foreman signs copies of his McVitie‘s Prize-nominated novel The Butterfly 's Wing (Gav Men's Press £8.95).
Sarah Ferguson Tue 3 Dec. 12.30—2pm. Dillons. I74 Argyle Street. 248 4814. The former HRH signs copies of her new money-spinner. sorry. autobiography My Story (Simon & Schuster £15.99).
The Next Generation Wed 4 Dec. 7.30pm. Burns Room. Mitchell Library. North Street. 287 2933. Carl MacDougall hosts an evening of music and poetry by young performers. for the ﬁnal instalment of the Library's Burns '96 programme.
Poetry Evening Fri 6 Dec. 8.30—10.30pm. Java Internet Cafe. 152 Park Road. 337 6727. A new(ish) night of poetry. performance and music. held on the ﬁrst Friday of the month. with guests. Dls and open mic slots.
Chocolate Art Fri 6/Sat 7 Dec. 8pm. £5 (£2). CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 0522. An evening of poetry and jazzy beats from Remi (of Urban Poets Society). Roger Robinson and Akure Wall.
The Shore Poets Mon 2 Dec. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The Poets launch their second anthology The Ice Horses (Scottish Cultural Press £5.95).
Black Ace Christmas Crackers Tue 3 Dec. 7pm. James Thin. 53 South Bridge. 556 6743. The Border publishers present an evening of Scottish author readings. including Graham 1-ironi with his controversial novel The Bone/s ()j'C/trist (£6.95).
Sean O’Brien Wed 4 Dec. 7.45pm. £3 (£2). Netherbow Theatre. 43 High Street. 556 9579. Edinburgh University Poetry present a reading from this acclaimed young English writer. winner of the Forward Prize.
Christmas Cala Shopping rtight Wed 4 Dec. 6—9pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. Dorothy Dunnett signs copies of her new book To Lie With The Lions (Penguin £6.99). Hamish Haswell- Smith signs The Scottish Islands (Canongate £25) and the authors of Grapevine (Ebury £7.99) hold a wine tasting. Plus carol singers. competitions and demonstrations.
Martin Foreman Thurs 5 Dec. 3pm. West & Wilde. 25a Dundas Street. 556 0079. The internationally acclaimed author signs copies of his recent novel The Butterﬂst Wing (Gay Men‘s Press £8.95).
Howard Marks Thurs 5 Dec. 7pm. Waterstone's. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. The former international drugs smuggler signs copies of his autobiography Mr Nice (Sccker and Warburg £15.99).
Stuart Harris and James u. Thomson Thurs 5 Dec. 7pm. James Thin. 53 South Bridge. 556 6743. Harris reads from his new book Place Names 0fEt/ltibllt'g/i (Gordon Wright £45). while Thomson reads from [Edinburgh Curiosities: A Capital Cornucopia (John Donald £7.95). Poems & Pints Fri 6 Dec. 7.30pm. The West End Hotel. Palmerston Place. Info: 337 8277. £1.50 (£1). The Edinburgh Writers' Association present an evening of poetry readings. with guest writer Harry Young. plus open floorspots.
Steve Coogan Sat 7 Dec. noon— 1 pm. Waterstone‘s. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. Coogau signs copies of The Paul and Pauline Cal/Book (Hodder £9.99). but which one will he turn up as?
Andrew Greig Mon 9 Dec. 6.30pm. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. The Scottish author reads from The Return Of John McNahh (Headline £6.99). his modern re-working of John Buchan‘s famous book.
Should Authors Have To Promote Themselves? Thurs 12 Dec. 7pm. James Thin. 53 South Bridge. 556 6743. Guest speakers novelist Eileen Ramsay and publishers Jamie Byng and John Mitchinson hold an open discussion.
88 The List 29 Nov-12 Dec 1996