CONTEMPORARY FICTION Nick Hornby
He’s been accused of everything from killing the novel to inventing Bridget Jones, but one thing Nick Hornby is guilty of is writing striking, accessible prose which has struck a Chord and scored a goal with the 905 reading public. Will Self may have dubbed Hornby's writing 'wimp fiction’ but at least he has the balls to write without hiding behind the thesaurus.
His debut, Fever Pitch, was an autobiographical lovesong to Arsenal, but also, rather cunningly, a chronicle of the effects of obsessional behaviour on human relationships. High Fidelity was a semi-autobiographical lovesong to his massive record collection and a wry tale about how crap it is when your woman packs you in. Hornby‘s latest About A Boy is about a bloke who befriends a twelve-year-old. Adoption is yet to become cool, but Hornby continues to be one of Britain‘s most successful and relevant authors. (Peter Ross)
N Nick Hornby, Post Office Theatre, 25 Aug, 11.30am, £6 (£4).
GROWTH OF LESBIAN FICTION
An anthology of lesbian love poetry, Love Shook My Senses, is a bold and successful attempt to harmonise and link poets from different eras. The editor, Gillian Spraggs, was keen to avoid the chronological, a pitfall that can often lessen the reflexive appeal of poetry books. ‘There would have been so many gaps in a chronological collection,’ she believes. ’When you link poems together thematically, the differences, similarities and juxtapositions can be so important.’
Also important in such a book is the idea of visibility and the full biographies help give the reader a necessary context for some of the work. 'Katherine Bradley collaborated with Edith Cooper, they lived and worked together but published under the pen name of Michael Field,’ points out Spraggs. ’Being identified as a male poet got them more attention which quickly faded when it was discovered they were women.’
a Gillian Spraggs And Elaine Hutton - Growth Of Lesbian Fiction, 24 Aug, 7pm, £5 (£3).
CONTEMPORARY FICTION Ardal O'Hanlon
If God had intended comedians to write novels, he‘d surely have given them wings. How else are they supposed to rise above the obstacles of suspicion and snobbery placed before them by us stonehearted critics?
O’Hanlon, who is of course best know for his role as the delirioust stupid Dugal Maguire in Father Ted, has the audacity to be not only a stand-up, but an actor and now an author. The Talk Of The Town, his first novel, is about as far removed from the surreal bubble world of Craggy Island as one can imagine. Jealousy, rage, self-hate, violence — Mrs Doyle would have a conniption to be sure.
Anti-hero Patrick Scully is a small- town boy who drinks, lusts and steals. He makes Holden Caulfield look well adjusted and thinks the world owes him something. Only he can‘t work out quite what that something might be. Check your preconceptions at the door. (Rodger Evans)
m Ardan O’Han/on, Spiegeltent, 21 Aug, 7.30pm, £7 (£5).
CONTEMPORARY FICTION Philip Hensher
Philip Hensher’s Pleasured is an intimate personal drama of three very different characters thrown together by chance, set in West Berlin against the backdrop of the toppling of the Wall in 1989. The book’s original title was to be The Inert Revel/er, a phrase lifted from Nabakov, and the echoes of Nabokov's evocations of the American landscape in Lolita are present in this text.
Prominent in the book are the roles played by pleasure and desire. ‘Pleasure is a solipsistic thing, whereas desire is linked to loss and absence — if it is attained, then it disappears,‘ notes Hensher. ’Desire is a human universal, and the root of all our behaviour.‘
West Berlin provided a most appropriate setting. Hensher visited the city many times and found himself fascinated by the hedonism of the place, a hedonism informed by its absence in the territory which surrounds it. (Ross Holloway)
3 Philip Hensher, The Napiers Herbalists And HEBS Lifestyle Tent, 26 Aug, 7pm, £5 (£3).
BLACK BRITISH WRITING Mike Gayle
Mike Gayle‘s debut novel, My Legendary Girlfriend, tells the story of Will Kelly, a mid-twenties graduate of lower-middle class origins, who lives in a scummy flat in North London and spends a great deal of time ruminating on his dumping by Aggi. Three years may have passed since this event, yet Will defers possible contact with others in favour of miserable what-went- wrong speculation.
Gayle‘s affection for his central Character makes one speculate about the biographical nature of the piece,
Gordon Legge: In Between Talking About The
His first collection of short stories. entitled In Between Talking About The Football, gained Gordon Legge cult status with The New York Times. Here, he picks out his five favourite fitba’ memories whilst simultaneously
upsetting his friends.
St Johnstone 2 Falkirk 3, 21 Sep. 1991
Simon Stainrod and Kevin McAllister were about to kick off again after St Johnstone had scored from a soft penalty. Simon said, ‘touch it.‘ Kevin said, ‘what?’ ‘Just touch it,‘ said Simon. Kevin played it to Simon who scored from the half-way line. The greatest goal ever scored.
Argentina 2 England 1, 22 Jun, 1986 The second greatest goal ever scored. The pace, the poise, the balance. And I still don‘t think it was handball.
Falkirk 1 Hearts 3, 3 Apr, 1998 A defeat, but Kevin McAllister was Maradona
and Cantona rolled into one.
Falkirk 7 Queen Of The South 5. sometime in 1969 Not the first game I was at but the first I remember. You don‘t get scorelines like that anymore.
Hibs 1 Stranraer 2, 15 Aug, 1998 Message to Mr Welsh and Mr Reekie — It’s
going to be a long, hard season. (Compiled by Brian Donaldson)
a Gordon Legge, Colin Schindler And Des Dillon (In Between Talking About The Football) Spiegeltent, 26 Aug, 2.15pm, £6 (£4).
m Gordon Legge, Toni Davidson And Brent Hodgson (Intoxication — Stimulant Based Writing) Spiegeltent, 25 Aug, 2.15pm, £6 (£4).
Gordon legge: not a Hibs fan
88 THELIST 20-27 Aug I998
Mike Gayle: passage writer
particularly given his own move from Birmingham to Archway. ‘Well, the flat was completely horrible, that much is biographical.‘ The novel is very much a rite of passage and Will’s learning process is at the centre. ‘He learns that friends are capable of anything, in both a positive and negative way, but at the end be kind of sorts himself.‘ (Steve Cramer)
a Mike Gay/e, Diran Adebayo And Courttia New/and, Studio Theatre, 27 Aug, 5pm, £6 (£4).
THE BIGGER PICTURE Vikram Chandra
Vikram Chandra‘s Edinburgh appearance seems strikingly appropriate. His latest work, Love And Longing in Bombay, focuses on the unique character of the city and the melding of cultures that exists there, a theme that can be applied to the Festival City itself. ‘Bombay contains the tensions that consume the whole country. It's strangely lovely and yet Cruel.’
As a writer, Chandra is as difficult to encapsulate as the nature of the city that absorbs him. With his fluid style, he hints at political tensions without pushing a message. At the same time, he highlights the amorphous aspects of Indian identity through individual portraits. ‘It’s impossible to capture the whole city so I‘ve tried to put together five fragments that sum it up.‘
In this way, Chandra skilfully weaves tales that evoke the influences, past and present, which make up India‘s 20th century social fabric. ‘You can't isolate yourself from what's going on in the rest of the world and India is no exception.‘ (Caroline Brown)
% Vikram Chandra (The Bigger Picture) Studio Theatre, 22 Aug, 3.30pm, £5 (£3).
SCOTTISH WRITERS FOR BREAKFAST/T HE
Not content with their own Jim
Kelman, Scotland has nicked Belfast‘s Booker nominee. Bernard MacLaverty
was born in Belfast and studied English at Queens’ University. He moved to