THE SCOTSMAN MILLENNIUM LECTURE
Theories about the innate bloodthirstiness of the fairer sex tend to fill column inches at quiet times of the year, usually under the headline 'Deadlier Than The Male'. Needless to say they’re all nonsense, but it is striking that the canon of great whodunnit writers is weighted heavily on the feminine side.
From grande dames Agatha Christie, PD James and Ngaio Marsh, to modern mistresses of the craft such as Patricia Cornwell and Minette Walters, female writers have made the genre their own; and Ruth Rendell is one of the most feted of them all.
Rendell was born in Essex in 1941, and is married to journalist Donald Rendell (whom she divorced in 1975 to marry again in 1977). A relentlessly prolific writer, she knocks out two books a year, under both her own name and the pseudonym Barbara Vine; and the resulting body of work has won her countless honours.
Having garnered practically every award her branch of the literati has
to offer, she was awarded the jewel in the crown in 1991: the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre. The world-weary Inspector Wexford, lynchpin of her crime novels, has become a household name since being introduced in her 1964 debut, From Doon With Death. Her work has been translated into 25 languages, and much of it has also been adapted for the screen; last year her 1986 novel Live Flesh provided the unlikely basis for Pedro Almodovar’s steamy film of the same name. However. the lady's interests are not confined to the grim shuffle between crime scene, coroner’s table and cop shop. She has referred to her mysteries as 'state-of- Britain novels', stressing their political content. She not only deftly negotiates intricate plots, but also confronts
social issues with an unflinching gaze.
Let's talk about sex: Ruth Rendell
Her forthcoming work, Harm Done, tackles the mass hysteria and press furore attendant upon the release of a paedophile into a community. She started out as a journalist, and still writes non-fiction. Perhaps it should not come as a shock, therefore, that her Millennium Lecture has nothing to do with crime writing.
Displaying another facet of her sharp insight into human nature, Rendell has chosen to speak about sex. In another surprising departure, she will not be focusing (as her books often do) upon the murkier side of sexual psychology and behaviour: rather, she will turn her attention upon women's writing about sex, and how it has changed over the past century. A lively subject, then, for a deadly accurate commentator on our times.
I For details see Hit list, right.
Loop dreams: Nicholas Evans
FICTION Nicholas Evans
Nicholas Evans’ first novel The Horse Whisperer became a publishing phenomenon. A worldwide bestseller, the book has sold over 11 million copies and been translated into 36 languages. It has also been made into a Hollywood film starring and directed by Robert Redford. The story, which charts the painful recovery of a young girl and her horse from a horrific accident, is notable for its powerful emotional charge and intense human and animal drama.
Evans’ new book The Loop is also set in the wide open spaces of Montana. The novel was written on the basis of meticulous research into the history of the North American wolf and, according to Evans, ‘no other animal has been more misunderstood or
demonised than the wolf.’
The book explores the highly contentious issue of the reintroduction of that beast to the American West. Helen Ross — a young wolf biologist - is sent to Hope, Montana where the reappearance of a wolfpack has reactivated old hatreds in the town. On one level, the novel is a dramatic telling of her efforts to protect the animals in a hostile environment. 'On another, it’s a story of self discovery,’ says Evans. 'It’s about man’s fear of the wild, both within and without. And it’s about the damage we do to ourselves and to others by denying our place in the natural scheme of things.‘
In both novels characters are out of kilter with the world and themselves. The ability to exist at peace with oneself and the environment is seen as the ideal. (Teresa Lowe)
I For details, see Hit list, right.
I I h I“ l S“! \
Seven wonders from the Festival’s final chapter. Ruth Rendell See preview, left. Ruth Rendell (Scotsman Millennium Lecture) Post Office Theatre, 27 Aug, 7.30pm, £7 (£5). lay Mclnerney Along wrth his contemporary Bret Easton Ellis, Mclneiney is still seen as an 805 man but he's continurng to churn out deeply incisive dissections into America and its screwy inhabitants. See feature, page 18. lay Mclnerney (Meet The Author) Post Ofﬁce Theatre, 28 Aug, 77.30am, £6 (£4).
Jimmy Boyle Inmate turned sculptor, autobiographer and playwright discusses his move into fiction with Hero Of The Underworld, an unsurprisineg brutal, though darineg surreal, debut. Jimmy Boyle (Teatime Talk) Spiegeltent, 27 Aug, 6.30pm, )3 6 (E4).
Kate Atkinson Whitbread Prize winner for Behind The Scenes At The Museum is joined by Ali Smith for a discussion on Atkinson’s forthcoming third book Emotionally Weird. Kate Atkinson (In Discussion) Post Ofﬁce Theatre, 30 Aug, 3pm, £6 (£4).
Toni Davidson And Luke Sutherland The country's hottest young authors combine for an early morning chat about abuse, prejudice and violence. Toni Davidson And Luke Sutherland (Scottish Writers For Breakfast) Spiegeltent, 29 Aug, 70.30am, £6 (f 4). See Freeloaders, page 23. Anne Michaels Orange Prize winner from Toronto brings us her new collection of poetry, Skin Divers, an earthy meditation on love, intimacy and physical attraction. Anne Michaels (Meet The Author) Post Ofﬁce Theatre. 29 Aug, 77.30am, £6 (£4); Anne Michaels (Bigger Picture) Gap Studio Theatre, 30 Aug, 3. 30pm, £5 (£3).
Nicholas Evans See preview, left. Nicholas Evans (Fiction) Post Ofﬁce Theatre, 29 Aug, 5pm,
£ 7 (£5).
26 Aug-9 Sep 1999 THE UST 81