litanda Scott (Headline £9.99)
Think horses and popular culture and Mr Ed, Silver or Champion probably spring to mind. Things have got a bit darker since then with dead ones in Equus and dismemberment in The Horse Whisperer. And now we have horses dropping like flies from a break-out of E.Coli and a veterinary surgeon's resulting psychological trauma in Manda Scott's second novel, Night Mares.
That the Glasgow-born writer should turn to equine literary matters has a sense of the inevitable about it. ’I was brought up relating an awful lot better to them (animals) than I did to people,‘ recalls Scott. 'Like most small girls, I had a thing about ponies and my parents said I could have one if I earned enough money. Obviously they weren't expecting me to do that so I got a milk-round and eventually saved enough to buy a pony.’
Unfortunately, the pony had a foal which died and the twelve-year-old Scott was so upset that she vowed to become a vet in order to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again — ’in the simplistic way you do things when you're twelve'.
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Manda Scott: horsing around
Simplistic idealism has flourished into a career as Scott balances her writing with part-time veterinary work, specialising in acupuncture on small and exotic creatures. The meaningless misery which haunted her in that defining moment is everywhere in Night Mares, her follow-up to her Orange Prize-nominated debut Hen’s Teeth.
Dr Nina Crawford of the University of Glasgow’s Vet School is seeing horses dying in front of her and there is nothing she, or anyone else, seems able to do. Her psychologist and friend, Kellen Stewart, is struggling to help Nina as her suicidal tendencies and feverish nightmares come to the fore. So what brings Manda Scott out in a cold sweat at 3am? ‘Because I’m an anaesthetist, they mostly involve something dying on
the table and me not being able to do anything about it,’ confesses Scott. ’50, I suppose they revolve around me being in a position to act and for some reason not being able to.’
Controlling the texture of a novel is something Scott is fully able to do, though. Sensual is one way to describe the Night Mares narrative with vivid descriptions of the beauty and suffering of both animals and humans. ’For me, it’s giving a sense of place,’ insists Scott. 'All writing is a process of putting yourself in a scene and describing what’s there — all six or seven senses are always occupied so if I’m trying to describe how I‘m feeling or what’s going on then it's a serious part of the book.’ (Brian Donaldson)
A Night Mares is out on Thu 72 Nov
GONZO FICTION The Rum Diary
Hunter S. Thompson (Bloomsbury £16.99) ‘
l‘he master of rock 'n' roll writing, new Journalism, (ion/o, call it what you will, Thompson had to first grasp the fear before he could wrestle \‘.lii‘ the loathing He had glimpsed it as a youth in St louis, but oniy really felt its breath after a decade on the road, humming from one ne\.'.=spai)er ]()i) to another, often guitting before he was fired Inspired by the irrachisrno and hubris of Hernincn'vay and the intensity of (email, he set about his first novel \.'v’ii||Si a Jobbing back with an ingli.h language paper in Puerto Rico No publisher at the time was interested and :t wasn’t until the success of He//'s
Ange/s, his rnSIcie story of that most arcane sect, and, of course, his narcotic odyssey to Las Vegas, that his talent was acknowledged.
Published three decades after its \"Jflilllq, The Rum Diary is an extraordrnary debut, mustei‘ing the restless energy of the beats and all the ennui of Salinger as if Holden (aulfielct had been catapulted a decade out of his adolescence Paul Kemp can still smell the phonies and he despises venality and weakness He wants to tear the world in half, only he is beginning to almost understand the grrnps who want to hold the whole mess together
Drunken, hysterical, helpless and wise, lhompson had written a fine novel and he knew it The loathing would soon come pretty easy rRodger' livansl
Putting debut authors under the microscope.
This issue: Rebbecca Ray.
Who she? Rebbecca Ray grew up in central Wales before movrng to London Something of a girlie swot, she gained eight GCSE's of the A variety, yet left school at sixteen to become a writer and completed 'ier debut aged seventeen. Rather than hit the roof, like yours or mine would have done, her mother iceramrcistl and her father (guitar teacher and sOngwriter) fully supported her decision. A literary agent got wind of' it, offered it to Penguin and the rest is blah, blah etc.
Her debut It's called A Certain Age and details a teenage girl's premature entry into adulthood. Among the ac:ki‘iowledgements is Stephen King ’for being the only writer who inspired me to write myself.’
Basically Basically, it’s a novel about INICII love, under-age sex and male eprOitatron, In other words, you’ve guessed it, the end of innocence.
First line test ’I was about thirteen when I started letting the boys feel me up. There was a whole bunch of them, four or five, and at lunchtime, we’d all meet up; smoking a spliff out on the pitch if it was sunny, round their table in the library if it wasn’t.’
Laugh ratio Bloody funny, actually. Ray insists that, while. the novel draws on people she knows, the work is not autobiographicc’il. Got that? For her parents’ sake, let’s hope that’s true ~ the narrators' get a right tanning. Not that it’s all light-hearted stuff, what With the drug abuse, self-mutilation and so forth.
For whom the book is credited 'For Nick For Jules. For Trrn. Thank yOu.' (Brian Donaldson)
it? A Certain Age is published on Thu 5 Nov by Penguin at £5. 99.
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