Autobiography Of A Murderer
Hugh Collins (Macmillan £15.99) *tt
Before even opening Collins’s book, it's easy to imagine, almost exactly, what it‘s going to be like. Tenements and Tongs, borstals, blades, guns, drugs, jails, screws, the Barlinnie Special Unit; there’s an awful familiarity to this tale. It’s to the author's credit, then, that he manages to make his story so compelling. Glasgow-born Collins, jailed for murder in the 19705 and now a sculptor, paints a brutal picture, unflinchingly. For the most part, the prose is kept spare, stumbling only over the traditionally difficult task of depicting an acid trip, or the opening musings on writing and the nature of the present. He offers no real conclusion, claims no particular epiphany; simply states the facts as he sees them, with what seems convincingly like honesty. How this book is going to be used now that it’s out of the author’s hands remains to be seen. There are, undoubtedly, lessons to be learnt, claims that will be denied; but there's scope for titillation, too. One suspects, though, that for Hugh Collins the most pertinent question is: now that he has written this autobiography, who is he? (DL)
King Ink ll
Nick Cave (Black Spring Press £9.99) * *‘kir‘k
A crooked and bony finger draws you into this second collection of Old Nick’s lyrics and miscellaneous scribblings. For here is a tumultuous and troubling world of broken spirits and brigands, where blood red dominates the colour scheme and Lady Luck never returns your calls. Fools, being fools, rush in, but angels wear crepe soles as they pass by the bordello, the speakeasy and the graveyard.
Critics cite Cave as a peddler of junky chic and Hammer Horror but as a modern day troubadour drawing on Blake and Dostoevsky, the author is without equal. Even without the fire and brimstone blues of his band The Bad Seeds, Cave’s words jump up and perform a devilish jig that mocks your average lyrically challenged pop star.
Covering a decade of both the personal and the vicarious with ever an unflinching eye and some wicked humour, King Ink II is a dark and beautiful work. (RE)
Sea Monster Tattoo
Ruth Thomas (Polygon £8.99) fr‘k‘kir
Whether one step from destitution or momentarily stricken by sadness, the characters in this debut collection are all, to some extent, damaged goods. By describing their various distracted and distressed states, Thomas explores the surfaces of emotional geography with insightful regard for the dynamics
U TIEIJS'I' 7—20 Mar 1997
/ uth Thomas
at work underneath. Each story has a luminous object: a vanishing fox, a music track, sparklers in ice-cream. Commonplace incidents reverberate with meanings which unlock mental states, like when a down-at-heel dog handler thinks the ‘pavements squirted him with dark water like octopuses’. lnvariably, wry comments about human habits outshine the surrounding air of gloom. Talent announced through a loudspeaker is prone to peter out after the first few battery-charged offerings. Edinburgh-based Thomas takes the opposite tack. Her up-close storytelling, like a disconcerting secret whispered, should turn heads and leave readers wondering where she has been until now. (DM)
The Gun Seller Hugh Laurie (Mandarin £5.99) rank
The latest of a spate of comedians to enter print, Laurie has picked the humorous thriller genre for his debut. Thomas Lang is a luckless ex-forces man with a motorcycle fetish, lured into selling a prototype military helicopter in the name of love. Terrorists, secret services etc but with a pacy plot and dialogue. (SM)
The Dustbin Of History Griel Marcus (Picador £6.99) tak‘kir
Constantly captivating, Marcus turns his cultural eye to history in an attempt to pinpoint the events which have shaped our world, urging us to realise the implications of our actions in the present. Drawing heavily from literature (Eco), music (Dylan) and film (Wenders), his vision is a complex beast. (SM)
Love, Again Doris Lessing (Flamingo £6.99) * t t
A far-reaching study of love from the multi-talented Lessing, this is 60-year- old Sarah Durham’s story. Having commissioned a play based on the journals of Julie Vairon, a 19th century mulatto woman, Sarah finds that it enchants all involved and is the catalyst for her to fall for two younger men and subsequently re-examine love in her own life. (SM)
REVIEWERS THIS ISSUE:
Ann Donald, Rodger Evans, Susan Mackenzie, Deirdre Molloy, Jonathan Trew, Damien Love
. ; Stuffls Connolly'snurd‘nbvet.
Joseph Connolly,(Faber, and Faber l g f £14.99) *‘k‘k “ i” ‘ ‘ ‘ ; 'Very..very,funny'. the blurb on- jadtet. raising . to a Vertiginouslevel; Plu'sithe author... - .Iooksfnotunllke‘e- hirsuteGeneralg- ‘ managements writingjis‘described‘i ._ fas fsomethirig ofe Torn? iSharpe‘and tau-immaculate; . .
published emblemswim thé ' paperback of his~second. This Is Iti (Faberand'Faber £6.99). which is destined-to find‘Itswayionto. our .. . television screensnext autumn‘hnost r" : liker starring” Rik Maya"). It’s ai’claiss'icz. '- farce entailing infidelity. blackmail.- ‘ torture, and interior design. Plenty of interior design. Very Hampstead in that respect'darling. ‘ . ~ Connolly's protagonist (a whopping misnomer) is a magnet for misfortune. so much so that he could well be the love child of Mr Bean and Norman Wisdom. All the female characters are psychotic. vengeful or merely drunk. Perfectly understandable once you meet their men folk. The book certainly possesses a good understanding of universal human foibles, particularly sweet being the woman who compares her life to those of film characters. Entertainment: pure. silly and simple, then. Amply amusing. fairly funny,
mildly mirthful, but let‘s not push it. (Rodger Evans)
. ‘ STAR RATINGS '*fk‘**~*j Outstanding ;‘£*.*,* Recommended 'i 9*? V .5060 bk Poor
Glasgow Spoken Word Fri 7 Mar. 8.30pm. Java lntemet Cafe. 152 Park Road. 337 6727. Performance poetry. speech and sound with guest readers. Kate Dickie and Roben Knox. Robin Robertson Thurs 13 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 121 Union Street. 221 0890. The Scottish poet will be reading from his new collection. A Painted Field (Picador £12.00 hardback; £6.99 paperback).
evin Warwick Thurs 13 Mar. 8pm. Dillons. 174—176 Argyle Street. 248 4814. Professor of Cybernetics will be signing copies of March Of The Machines (Century £16.99). with robots illustrating the enormous advances made in artificial intelligence. Michael Shea Tue 18 Mar. 6.30pm. John Smith’s. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. The author will be signing copies and reading from his new book The Union (HarperCollins £15.99). A. L. Kennedy Tue 18 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 121 Union Street. 221 0890. The British Film lnstitute‘s series of film analysis publications sees A. L. Kennedy discussing her views on Powell and Pressburger's film The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (BFl Publications £6.99).
Edwin Morgan Fri 7 Mar. 7.30pm. £1.50 (£1). The West End Hotel. 35 Palmerston Place. Contact John McCaughie on 337 8277 for further information. Performance poetry with local writers and special guest Edwin Morgan.
Ian Rankin Sat 8 Mar. 2—4pm. Newington Library. Fountainhall Road. 225 5584. The Scottish crime writer runs an adult workshop for new writers on writing crime fiction.
Trevor Royle Tue 11 Mar. 6.30—8.30pm. Central Library. George [V Bridge. 225 5584. Biographer. reviewer. critic and journalist will be running a participative workshop for new writers on writing biography.
Kate Atkinson Wed 12 Mar. 7pm. £1 (or three for £2). Edinburgh Festival Theatre. 13-29 Nicolson Street. Tickets from James Thin. South Bridge. 556 4495. Last year’s Whitbread Novel Of The Year
winner will launch her new book Human Croquet (Transworld £15.99). See preview.
Kevin Warwick Wed 12 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034. The professor of cybernetics will be signing copies of March Of The Machines (Century £16.99). with robots demonstrating the enormous advances made in artificial intelligence.
lain Crichton Smith Wed 12 Mar. 7.45pm. £3 (£2). Netherbow Arts Centre. 43—45 High Street. 556 9579. Crichton Smith looks at the poetry of the late Norman MacCaig.
Wilbur Smith Thurs 13 Mar. 7pm. £3 (£1 off book). Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. Tickets from Waterstone‘s. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034 or any Ticketline outlet. The legendary author will be signing copies and reading from his new book Birds OfPrev (Macmillan £16.99).
Andrew Motion and Robin Robertson Fri 14 Mar. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034. An evening of contemporary poetry with Andrew Motion reading from his new collection Salt Water (Faber £7.99) and Robert Robertson reads from his new work A Painted Field (Picador £6.99).
Stuart McHardy Tue 18 Mar. 6.30—8.30pm. Central Library. George [V Bridge. 225 5584. A workshop for adults who are new to Screevin ' In Scots.
Bill Chudziak Tue 18 Mar. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Channel 4‘s newest gardener will be talking about Bloom (Collins & Brown £20), from the current TV series.
Sir Michael Woodruff Wed 19 Mar. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The pioneering surgeon will talk about his memoirs Nothing Venture. Nothing Win (Scottish Cultural Press £15).
Clerk Geddes Thurs 20 Mar. 7pm. James Thin. 53-59 South Bridge. 556 6743. St. Andrews lecturer. Geddes will give a talk on Nemesis And The Mearns (Scottish Cultural Press £9.99). a study of Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
Women Talking Big Fn‘ 7 Mar. 8pm. £2.50. Penicuik Arts Centre. West Street. Tickets from local libraries or by telephoning 0131 440 2210. To celebrate lntemational Women‘s Day. authors lsla Dewar and Alison Armstrong will perform extracts from their work.