BOOK REVIEWS continued


Happy Now

Charles Higson (Abacus €6.99) fir 3k it fir

It always starts thus: a few emotionally crippled but otherwise normal folk whose lives encircle and collide. Cue the learning from each other, recognising their failings and reconciling the screwed up-ness they inherited from their fathers.

But as this is a novel by Charles ‘The Fast Show’ Higson, there is no way that this very black psycho-thriller is going to simply head down that path. Instead, the main characters in Happy Now, originally published in 1993, seem to choose the most destructive

Eating & Drinking Guide 1999

option at every turn. Tom believes that the young burglar-cum-museum curator Will holds the secret to happiness, while Lucy is only woken

from her dazed existence by the murder of her husband.

Higson manages to balance the extremely anti-social and mentally unstable characters with a very dark - wit, so it’s not only the macabre details i which make this such compelling reading. (SB)

PERSONAL MEMOIR l Remind Me Who I Am, Again

Linda Grant (Granta £7.99) it t *

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. Sadly, many readers will be able to identify with Linda Grant’s moving account of her mother's mental deterioration as a victim of Multi- lnfarct Dementia, of which there are over 700,000 sufferers in the UK alone.

Available 15 April

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'l'lll'. SL1 t'L‘l lSl-I ARTS (:(X'NCII

The Arvon Foundation Moniack Mhor


Experience the writing process at first hand. Four and half day courses, tutored by professional writers, in beautiful surroundings.

May 10—15: Poetry and Short Fiction with Brian McCabe and Medbh McGuckian

May 24—29: Poetry with Brendan Kennelly and Mimi Khalvati June 7—12: Starting to Write Fiction with Romesh Gunesekera and Lawrence Scott

June 14—19: Short Stories with John Burnside and Agnes Owens

June 21—26: Drama with Judith Johnson and Winsome Pinnock

The full course fee is £320 (£195 for students). Grants, which can he substantial, are availablefor those unable to afford the

fullfee. For bookings and further information call

01463 741675

Grant charts in detail the devastating effect of the disease, not just upon her

I mother but on the whole family. As

; Rose Grant’s short-term memory begins to fail her, the author also looks ; back over her family history to her mother’s birth in Liverpool at the end

of World War I; to her immigrant father’s early life in Prohibition-era

: America; his subsequent arrival on

' Merseyside and all the way back to her ; Eastern European Jewish roots.

As a historical document it’s fascinating reading, but what really impresses is the rigorous honesty with which the daughter writes of her difficult relationship with an apparently unloving mother. It makes for a raw, honest and occasionally funny

j confession. (MF)

f WHITBREAD WINNER = The Last King Of 2 Scotland Giles Foden (Faber £6.99) * at it a:

. Foden's first novel deserves the praise

and prizes heaped upon it. The book could be compared favourably to much of Graham Greene’s work, with a compromised and fallible indivrdual embrorled in political intrigue and moral corruption in an exotic location.

. The country in question is 705 Uganda,

and the protagonist a Scottish doctor

who becomes personal physician to the dictator, ldi Amin.

Doctor Harrigan IS, at heart, a weak

individual, perhaps even a coward. His

failure to act against his tyrannical employer is initially frustrating, until

i one realises that the sequence of anti-

climaxes reflect the world's way of dealing with despots. We cosy up to them, fascinated by manic charisma and homicidal zeal.

On an indivrdual basis too, the book

constantly questions whether the

f reader would have had the moral

E conviction required to assassinate a

4 mass murderer. Whatever your answer,

this makes for uncomfortable reading.

, (RF)

f CONTRIBUTORS THIS ISSUE: Simone Baird, Thom Dibdin, Brian ; Donaldson, Clark Dunn, Rodger Evans,

Miles Fielder, Rob Fraser, Alan Morrison

STAR RATINGS *i‘k‘k * Outstanding a: it * * Recommended * 3k * W0rth a try * * So-so * Poor pl

98 THE HST 18 Mar—l Apr 1999





Classics Discussion Group Borders Books. 283 Buchanan Street. 222 7700. 6.30pm. The group discuss limile Zola‘s Therese Ruquin.

Ali Smith John Smith. 252 Byres Road. 334 2769. 7pm. Novelist and short story writer Ali Smith achieved great acclaim for her first collection of stories Free Love in I995 and published her first novel Like two years ago. Tonight she reads from her new collection Other Stories (Ultl other stories (Granta £9.99).


Fifth Column: Writer's Workshops ('entral Library. George [V Bridge. 225 558-1. 6—8pm. Free. For further details call 225 558-1 or pick up an enrolment form from any lidinburgh public library. Ron Butlin leads this poetry workshop. Also on 25 Mar.

Brid Hetherington James 'l‘hin. 53—59 South Bridge. 622 8222. 7pm. The Dunfermline author reads from her new book (fur/er The Shadow: Letters ()flxn'e

Am! War [9/] —-l9l7 ((‘ualann Press


Eileen Drewery Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. 220 4349. 7.30pm. £3 (£1.50). i’aith healer Iiileen Drewery has been much in the press recently because of her association with (ilenn lloddle and the lingland football team. Her new book Why Me? My Life As A Faith Healer (Headline £14.99) is her account of the first manifestations of her powers and how she has since used them to help countless people. Whether you‘re a cynic or a believer this should be a thought- provoking evening.



Valerie Thornton The Tryst. 3t) Cranworth Street. Hillhead. 357 (i838. l0am-- noon. Free. Workshop for poets led by Valerie 'I’hornton.



Contemporary Fiction Discussion Group Borders Books. 283 Buchanan Street. 222 7700. 12.30pm. Sebastian l’aulks‘ powerful love story Birdsong is the chosen book for this session.

Jon Keliemor The Tryst. 30 Cranworth Street. llillhead. 357 (i838. 2--5pm. Free. Workshop about music and poetry run by Jon Kelieinor.


Fifth Column: Writer's Workshops Wester l-lailes Library. 1 \Vestside Plaza. 4-12 I220. I0am-—noon. Free. See Thu l8 for ticket details. Joy Hendry leads this poetry workshop. Also on 27 Mar.

Fifth Column: Writer's Workshops Leith Library. 2S 30 Ferry Road. 529 55l7. lllam-r-noon. Free. See Thu l8 for ticket details. Poetry workshop led by Valerie (iillies. Also on 27 Mar.


Robert Knox Borders Books. 283 Buchanan Street. 222 7700. 8pm. Free. Performance poet. Robert Knox hosts this regular poetry evening giving writers and performers the opportunity to share their work.



Janice Galloway Ramshorn Theatre. 98 Ingram Street. 287 55l l. l---2pm. The author of The Trick Is '12) Keep Breathing and I-oreign I’urrs reads and talks about her work. Part of ll'ritertest.

Nine Lives ’l‘lie Seolia Bar. l 12 Stockwell Street. 552 SoSl. 8.30pm. l‘ree. Launch of Nine I.l\'(’.\‘ (Department

()I‘ linglish Literature. (ilttsgow

l'niversity £3.95) written by teaching staff from the university.