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Hoots! An Anthology Of Scottish Comic Writing

David Jackson Young and Susie Maguire eds (Polygon £10.99)

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For those who think the phrase 'Scottish writing' and the adjective 'comic’ are mutually exclusive, this collection should bring an end to such thoughts. From the debut telly rant of Rab C Nesbitt through to Ivor Cti‘ilei"s ode to rubber underweji", onwards to Alasdair Gray's niusrngs on roentin in ‘The Trendelenbuig Position' 1': am a Partick Thistle supporter . . and I believe in Virtual Reality') and upwards to Chic Murray’s iriteriections, we are entertained by a rich variety of Celtic voices. All the dominant Scottish concerns are here -- football, religion, England, Sean Connery, golf and liquOur -- all treated With verve and Wit. lnevitably with such a diverse range of tales, those which hit the spot for some Will leave others cold. For this reader, Su5ie Maguire's lovely 'Barry Norman's Tie’, Raymond Travers's sharp indictment in Scotland On Sunday of Wine Welsh, and his Subiect's stOry 'Where The Debris Meets The Sea', had the greatest impact. Braw (80)

Diamond Geezers

Greg Williams (Fourth Estate £6.99) *‘flr it

Do you want some? Areyoushaw? A word to the Wise- he's a bit tasty is Russell Fisher, knowotlmeari7 A reformed footy casual (West Ham if you must know -- silent H mind, innit),

Russell wants a bit more than Friday nights down the Black Prince necking Carling, eyeing the page three princesses and gassing with the Polo geezers. He wants Sonia, to be exact, only Sonia is Ron's wife, and Ron's a local mobster With a sizeable temper. And then there's Ron’s little brother Trevor, a bampot who doesn’t like Russell, not to mention Barko, a bull mastiff who’s eaten 600 nicker of Ron's hard extorted dosh. Arena deputy editor Williams's debut novel Diamond Geezers swaggers With convincing menace, drips With the odd bout of ultra violence, and snorts with plenty of jokey blokey quups most at the expense of Millwall FC. Pulp Fiction in Barnet, froths the press blurb. Yeraviriaiaughurentcha? (RE)

House Of Rooms

Siri Reynolds (Polygon, £8.99) *’ a: * Thanks to the pill and IVF, women have left their I960s spare rib status behind, and men who don’t acclimatise run the risk of becoming spare parts. In a nutshell, the new lads are kidding themselves. The impact wrought on

culture and relationships by these

changes is to the fore in Reynolds’s debut novel House Of Rooms. A thirtysometliing couple Helen (infertile) and Dan (resigned) find their frayed marriage further strained when Helen begins an affair with Usha, their free-spirited new Asian neighbour, and Dan has a covert fling with one of his pretty students. Things come to a head when Usha offers to be the surrogate mother of Helen’s longed-for child, and the impermanent feelings bonding the trio materialise. Reynolds fleshes out this scenario like a natural, with convrncing characters and fluent dialogue. If only the novel's title evoked the Winning story inside. (DM)

Draw your gun: John Hartigan takes on his last case in Sin City: That Yellow Bastard

The Burglar In The Library

Lawrence Block (No Exit Press £16.99) ****

Block's eighth Bernie Rhodenbarr novel is a genuine treat for the crime literature lover, blending an Agatha Christie country house murder mystery with ironic Chandler-style dialogue. The central whodunnit unfolds enjoyany with the requisite gathering of eccentrics in an isolated setting, proving it’s possible to have fun with story traditions and show respect at the same time. (AM)


Sarah Dunant (Virago £15.99/£9.99) H t

The opening quarter of the former Late Show presenter’s latest, crackles with prickly unease as book translator Elizabeth becomes aware of a stalker subtly shifting around items in her kitchen. This feeling of invasion into the sanctity of a single woman's home isn't sustained however, and the book develops into a psychological power game between the rapist and a heroine unwilling to view herself as victim. (AM)

Going Under

Trevor Wright (Indigo £5.99) * t r * David Fleet: mental hOSpital inmate and murderer, or doctor and psychotherapist? As the first-person narrator absorbs himself in unnecessary details, he could be either; but rambling, obsessive sentences and odd Jumps of thought lead us to believe we're taking a guided tour along the twisting corridors of a sick mind. Wright's complex novel isn't Just a murder investigation; it's a process of self-discovery, as Fleet forces himself to connect past with present, while separating reality from fantasy. (AM)


Carol Anne Davis (Do-Not Press £7) ‘k Edinburgh-based writer Davis' debut novel centres on a sooal misfit undertaker who prefers quiet women (even if he has to silence them permanently) and his meeting with a desperate, overweight young spmster. With prose as lumpen and unappealing as the characters, the ston/ tries to slip into their thought processes, but stalls over scenes that are plainly distasteful. An odious little book abOut odious little people. (AM)

Sin City: That Yellow


Frank Miller (Titan £16.99) at ht Miller introduces a new set of characters into his grim, graphic novel series, a world that's black and white on the page, but not in morality. Taking a ClaSSIC pulp scenario a cop on the verge of retirement ends up on a painful course of self-sacrifice to save a young girl Miller literally creates his story from the shadows. Nihilism in distilled form. (AM)

STAR RATINGS if: 'k it t * Outstanding ii ii i * Recommended * ii: 1: Worth a try ii it 50-50 it Poor


The Search For The Perfect Language

Umberto Eco (Fontana £9.99)

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Originally published in five languages, this is one instalment in a series entitled The Making Of Europe. On the premise that there once existed a 'super tongue', capable of expressing the true essence of all mind and matter, Eco attempts its rediscovery. An expansive study encompassing formal, synthetic and narrative languages, the result is highly academic but fascinating. (SM)

Angela's Ashes

Frank McCourt (Flamingo £6.99) ** * it

A retired New York teacher, McCourt won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize with his first book. Born in New York, his Irish parents returned home when he was four, plunging the young boy into a ’miserable Irish Catholic childhood’. Poverty and oppression may dominate these novel-like memoirs but cheerful resignation and a slightly sarcastic wit shine through. (SM)


Janette Turner Hospital (Virago U9%****

The latest Outing from the underrated Australian novelist takes us to Outer Maroo, a small outback town which, according to the maps, doesn’t even exist. These days, however, more peOple are stumbling upon the town, upsetting its natural balance. Most are inexplicably drawn there, but their fate lies in the hands of the mysterious Oyster. (SM)

REVIEWERS THIS ISSUE: Brian Donaldson, Roger Evans. Susan Mackenzie, Alan Morrison.


LR. Rowlings Tue 29 Jul. 3pm. John Smith's. 57 St Vincent Street. 221 7472. Children's author will be signing copies and reading from his new book Harry Potter Am/ The Philosopher '.\' Stone (Bloomsbury £4.99).

(.1. Tabraham Tue 5 Aug. 6.30pm. John Smiths. 57 St Vincent Street. 22l 7472. The author will be reading from and discussing Scat/um] 's Cast/er (Batsford £ l 5.99).


Northurnbrian Poets Fri I Aug. 7.30pm. £1.50 (£l). West End Hotel. Palmerston Place. For more details contact the Edinburgh Writers' Association on 337 8277. Four of the best performance poets from the north east of Scotland will be presenting their work. Martin Booth Mon 4 Aug. b.30pm. James Thin. 59 George Street. 225 4495. Novelist and documentary writer will be reading from his new book The Doctor; The Dert't'rii't' Am! Arthur Conan Doyle (£20 Hodder & Stoughton).

25 Jul—7 Aug 1997 III! usrss