Citron’s cv

If Jane Austen were alive today, she may well be called LANA CITRON. The Dublin-born writer's debut looks at sex, cynicism and Soft Cell. Words Thom Dibdin

Lana Citron is somewhat cagey about her past. And as a first time novelist she has every right to be Sucker is good enough to stand on its own stead without any further help from the Irish-born ex-actress who has spent the last four years living in London and now works as a PA in media land.

Other novelists. with lesser books to sell. will flog themselves instead. Something which. if Citron were to do. would pile on the irony. for Sucker is all about selling yourself. an artforrn of cynical manipulation in late 20th century London.

Not that the idea is exactly new. livery slip of a romantic novelist. from Jane Austen on. has littered their pages with women and men whose lives are dedicated to manipulating themselves into stable relationships. It‘s just that Citron is hardly a romantic at least not on the page. For her central characters. romance is a fiction itself. They are far too bus negotiating sex for stability to bother with love or notice when romance comes lingering over a crowded room.

So is romance dodo-dead in these days of self and instant gratification as Sucker would have the reader believe'.’ ‘No. not at all. No!.' retorts Citron. shocked at the very thought of it. ‘Romance is really alive. although I suppose it needs to be real. It is the intention behind things that. to me. is romantic. Maybe my characters have lost that intention. or just misplaced it.‘

Her skill in Sucker is to utilise the canvas of the ultra- cool. late-()(ls metropolitan angst novels while standing well apart from the herd. She has bucked the trend by creating a brutally honest set of characters and giving them voice in a prose style which lilts somewhere between raw abstract poetry and overheard pub anecdote. No-one is particularly likeable. btit all carry just enough truth and humour to be recognisable.

We have Brian who still thinks he looks like ‘that guy out of Soft Cell‘. Bea. who still hears her mother’s words about finding a husband ringing in her ears when out on the pull. Markus who still

100 THELIST 14-28 May i998

‘All those games play are such a load of old mléocss. way we are taught ourselves to be. pretty is very physical and way " for ourselves? r.

Sucker: fisticuffs of the sexes

yearns to be pampered. Ruth who still snarls from behind political correctness because of her si/e but would happily shag anything with the right chromosomes. And holding the slightly loose plot together. an unnamed ‘l‘ or ‘She’. whose mysterious and voyeuristic revelations of the opening chapter are not explained until the last page.

"l'he whole book is attempting to investigate our sexual customs. or the way we behave towards one another.‘ says Citron. ‘All those games we play are such a load of old bollocks. A lot of my contemporaries were

t _‘_. to {Seifil’is‘it}

nursery rhymes and fairy tales. The way we are taught to decorate ourselves to be pretty is very physical and very little of it is for ourselves.‘

There's not a hint of PC here. however. Just a full-

on fisticuffs of the sexes. So while the odd twinge of

romance does come dragging its fingers in the dust and looking at the photographs on the mantle. the irony is that the suckers are those who have become lost behind their defensive walls of cynicism.

Sucker by lana Citron is published by Secker 8: Warburg at £9.99.

still brought tip on a diet of

The write stuff

Kevin MacNeiI's voice is rooted in the Hebrides but with a vision which takes in American and Zen Buddhist culture. Yes, but what is his catchphrase?

Five words to describe yourself Unpredit table come to think of it, I'll be five different Words tomorrow so I’ll leave it at that

Five words to describe Love And Zen In The Outer Hebrides Multi-voit ed, entertainino, thouoht provokino, ie readable, different

What‘s more important, love or zen love and xen are water and waves Inseparable

Catchphrase 'One moon, many reflertions '

Do you read/care about reviews I read rewews but I only (are about them ll they are written wrth justified honesty

Book/poem that you wish you'd written I Wish I'd written Fugitive Pier es by Anne lVll( haels, a book Wlll( h has the intensity and lu< idity of a well sustained and lll(‘-( hanoino poem Future of poetry I don't know what the future of poetry holds, but I’ll be happy as long as the writers keep a grasp on their humble pen and notebook in the real world and don't (jet lost in (yberspate

Ambitions My main ambition at the moment is to write a novel

Fears As a Wiser man than I ()lt((‘ said, 'we've (]()l ll()llllll(] to fear but fear itself '

Recurring dream/nightmare Sometimes an ex-oirlfriend Will (reep into my dreams, \Nlll( h l lllllll". is deeply unfair

What you do to wind down/get high (it) for a swan, listen to musit (all kinds but (ountry), read, no to the < inema, sit Ia/en (/en irieditation) ()r in times of desparation, write a book (Brian Donaldson)

Love And Zen In The Outer Hebrides is published by Canonqate at {7 99




Outer Hebrides