KIDS ROUND-UP Events For Children

The Book Festival's children’s programme has been eating its spinach. It may well have more muscle than Popeye and Desperate Dan put together with the strength to pack more than one punch.

Highlights for under-sixes in the first week include Paddington Bear’s 40th birthday party and local writer/illustrator Debi Gliori, who tells stories from her much loved Mr Bear series. But don‘t expect any ltchy or Scratchy-type antics from Aileen Paterson’s Maisie the kitten or Lucy Cousins' Maisy the mouse.

Six to eleven-year-olds are a different breed altogether, are they not? Give them a dose of Disgusting Digestion, Nick Arnold's session packed with gruesome facts and revolting experiments, washed down with Martin Brown’s Horrible Histories and Philip Ardagh's Ask An Alien. James Jauncey, author of The Crystal Keeper, talks about his favourite children’s book, Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and discusses why it was voted the most popular children’s book ever last year. Adults accompanying this age range will enjoy the storytelling skills of Duncan Williamson and David Campbell and the mercurial poetry of Roger McGough and Brian Patten.

Adults can also get advice on book recommendations for any age of children from babies to twelve-year- olds in the Johnston Press Teepee. (Gabe Stewart) '

a Events For Children, various venues, 15—31 Aug.


Nearly four years on from his Booker- nominated novel The Folding Star, Alan Hollinghurst returns with a new book The Spell. There are similar themes at work in this novel, an array of tragedies and parodies constructed into tautly choreographed scenes, but while it is an exploration of human imperatives, cultural reactions and personal interactions, it is also a lighter, shorter work that nevertheless took two years to write. ’I write slowly because I like to get things right the first time,’ Hollinghurst states. 'For me, the main pleasure is describing things

Alan Hollinghurst: spell bound

but not wasting words in doing so. I found writing this novel in the third person helped me create a deliberately tighter, leaner narrative.’

As the new book's title would suggest, Hollinghurst is concerned with the nature of infatuation - the interweaving loves, desires and contradictions of his gay characters play to a wider audience. This demands and expects a sense of empathy from readers who will, in some way, have been where Hollinghurst takes them. ’lt’s about change and how it affects people, why some peOple embrace it while others resist it.’ (Toni Davidson)

a Alan Hollinghurst, Studio Theatre, 7 9 Aug, 7pm, £5 (£3).


Iain Banks is one of the few writers to flit, successfully, between the differing demands of mainstream fiction and genre science fiction. Fittingly, he and his pal, Ken MacLeod, both heavyweights on the Scottish science fiction scene, will be presenting a joint talk on the ’process, the challenge and the reward’ of writing in the genre.

'You adapt what you write to the expectations of the peOple who are going to be reading it,’ says Banks. 'There is a slight feeling you are among friends with science fiction. No one really describes themselves as a "mainstream fan", although it is, in a sense, a genre in its own right.’

Both Banks and MacLeod had new science fiction novels out this year. While admitting, with a laugh, that his Inversions allowed him to give his story-telling muscles a ’good work- out’, Banks points out that MacLeod's Cassini Division makes full use of one of the genre's major selling points. ’Science fiction is one of the only places you can fully explore ideas that effect the whole of a society,’ maintains Banks. ’In that sense, Ken probably writes purer science fiction than I do. I’m just looking for an excuse to get silly ship names in.‘

(T hom Dibdin)

a Iain Banks And Ken MacLeod On Science Fiction (Nuts And Bolts) Studio Theatre, 16 Aug, 5.30pm, £5 (£3).

3 Iain Banks (Meet The Author) Post Office Theatre, 78 Aug, 11.30am, £6 (£4).


Having made a packet from The Pill, pioneering contraceptive researcher Carl Djerassi turned his attention to writing novels, which he describes as 'science-in-fiction'. Djerassi arrives in Edinburgh, where his play An Immaculate Misconception is premiering, to discuss his life and work. The truth is that he remains more likely to win a Nobel prize for chemistry than literature, but Djerassi's stories of everyday boffin folk do usefully explore the social impact of scientific discoveries. There's also quite


SoRhett Butler was a blockade runner and Doug Ross snatches babies _ :‘ the jaws of death. That doesn't mean all sex symbols have to have, ._ glamorous careers. Casanova was a librarian, after all; and Rob MacGregor.‘3-}.Z dashing hero of Alan Titchmarsh’s first novel, is - you guessed-it ~' 3 a " ' i 11

celebrity gardener.

’People are bound to think that I'm writing about myself,’ TitchmarSh I‘ concedes. ‘but why should i be? You start off writing about what you know; -_

that‘s all. My next book has nothing to do with gardening.’ The eponymous hero of Mr MacGregor and his cohorts sow a fair few wiid-

oats in the course of the novel. Did Titchmarsh worry about shocking his: blue-rinsed. green-fingered fanbase? 'Gardeners are more of a cross- __ _' a; _ pollination than you'd thinkl' he jests. 'There's nothing too shockinginjthe: .3

«the sex is either sensuous or funny. which is the waysexjisfi. ~ tempuraw betrays his 'raVen-haired' grrirgiajgjararjggs; Eblonde'. You get the. picture. The authorls the-firstit‘jfi y y' that this is'a'furro'w already. well-ploughed. ‘l have no 2934:: not meant'to be improving. or provoking. it's a bit of fun.‘ ilkn'tfiifil‘al‘'risj

persist in asking him about seedlings instead of sequels? “That's an ~-

occupational hazard.’ (Hannah McGill) . f 3 'Alan Titchmarsh (Meet The Author) Post Office Theatre, 19 Aug, 11.30a‘m _":.

£6 (£4).

a lot of sex, or at least its second cousin, procreation.

In his cycle of five novels, Djerassi considers the moral consequences of scientific advances such as the fertility treatment, ICSI —- that’s ’intracytoplasmic sperm injection’, since you ask. His latest book, NO, is partly about male impotence, with a scientifically plausible account of a self-administering cure involving breath deeply, chaps the insertion of a glass rod down your . . . well, let’s not spell it out.

NO is set in the 805, but the recent hype surrounding Viagra gives the story extra, er, potency. From a man who swung with the best of them in 605 San Francisco and still has a devilish twinkle in his eye at the age of 75, this should be an entertaining event. (Eddie Gibb) a Carl Djerassi, The Post Office Theatre, 18 Aug, 7pm, £6 (£4).


Janet Street-Porter has done a fair bit of climbing in her time. Up till now this has been restricted to getting ahead in the media and forcing her forthright opinions onto anyone who cared‘to

listen. Now though, her ascension requires secure footing rather than a quick mind during editorials.

The self-styled guru of youth TV (or ’yoof‘ TV, as both detractors and admirers have billed it) has recently taken in over 500 miles of British footpaths and over 65,000 feet of hills and mountains for Coast To Coast, a TV and book series.

It may seem like a drastic transformation of image for someone who was once stepped out with a member of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, so it will probably come as a surprise that she currently holds the prestigious post of Vice-President of the Ramblers' Association. But clearly, she has been doing much thinking of late. 'The other reason for my journey was personal; it was to take stock of my life at SO,’ she stated recently. 'I had been through a pretty depressing year; there had been a lot of changes on the domestic and the work front. I started 1997 determined never to return to the executive life I had got sucked into.’ (Brian Donaldson)

& Janet S treet-Porter (Writers For Breakfast) Spiegeltent, 16 Aug, 10.15am, £5 (£3).

I3-2o Aug 1998 TIIEIJSTBB