SHORT STORY COLLECTION Hanif Kureishi lvlidnight All Day (Faber £9.99)
A character in Hanif Kureishi's new short story collection Midnight All Day is distracted by a news story about a famous writer’s ex~partner distressed at her own portrayal in his latest book. In another story the same situation is examined more closely; a writer is confronted by an old girlfriend horrified at his fictionalisation of their past. Kureishi's own former lover registered her objections to his last novel, Intimacy, across numerous column inches; why did he feel the need to retread what must be painful ground?
‘I thought it would be amusing, for journalists,’ he laughs. ’lt’s what writers do with their lives. Picasso might have painted a portrait of his lover, but it would be distorted, filtered through his imagination. You never take one person and just slot them into your fiction; the characters are combinations of other people. Usually, they end up being different aspects of oneself.’
The stories in Midnight All Day are, for the most part, snapshots of romantic disillusionment. A recurrent theme is cruelty suffered by confused, vulnerable men at the hands of more worldly women. ’lt‘s more about how men and women try to relate to one another, and how they succeed or fail,’ he says. ’I think the dependency inherent in falling in love with someone is very difficult, and very frightening for men and for women.’
Yet he seems to sympathise with one of his characters, who argues that while women were reconstructed by feminism, men still flounder, uncertain of their role. 'Women learned a lot in the 605, 70s and 805 about their position in history. As a result, men have become more conscious of what it is to be a man, especially in relation to their children; there has been a crisis and a rethinking, which I think is very positive.’
And yet, the fathers in Kureishi's book seem alienated
Flight of fancy: Out Of My Mind of the 705
METAPHYSICAL PREVIEW Out Of My Mind Richard Bach (Sidgwick & Jackson
Richard Bach began writing at the age of 23, when the first lines of Jonathan Livingston Seagu/l appeared to him, so he claims, in cinerama on his bedroom wall It took eight years for the ending to appear, and another three before a plane fan I lylacniillan decided to take him on The book, about a metaphorical gull striVing to attain perfect flight, was an instant success and made Bach a millionaire, selling over 30 million copies in three dozen languages and . enabling him to live a high-profile, . g ' g “ high-flying lifester Like many other No. overnight phenomena, Bach ended up confused and in declaring himself bankrupt at the end
Books familiar: Hanif Kureishi
and afraid by the changes in their partners' bodies, the strangeness of their children and the loss of their youthful freedoms. As his own baby (who has already delayed this interview by leaving the phone off the hook) cries in the background, Kureishi explains, 'When you have a child it's like a bomb going off; you have to pick up the shattered pieces of your relationship and build a whole new one.’
There is little joy in Midnight All Day (although comic relief comes in the form of a bizarre satire concerning a strangely independent penis), and Kureishi’s sexual politics can seem simplistic. But sadness, as even babies know, is universal, and these stories have a painful familiarity. (Hannah McGill)
*' ivlid/iig/rt A// Day is pub/ished on fn/lo/i 7 Nov
The 80s saw him reorganise his life, with the help of second wife Ieslie and, to the relief of his legions of fans, he went on to publish The Adventures Of A Re/uc taiit Messrah and The Bridge Across Forever Bach's latest work is Out Of My Mind, another short novella focusing on flight This time, Bach a former US Air Force pilot -- juxtaposes mind and time travel and voyages to an alternative 20th century, one which foresaw the implications of war and chose to avert rather than fight it
It’s a world free of technology and modern-day cruelty, where tiger moth planes and green fields abound in a picture postcard English scene, and you get the impression that in the 64th year of a maniacal lifetime, it’s where Richard Bach would rather be.
(NICky Agate) I! Out Of My Mind is pub/ished on Fri 22 Oct.
and editor at
Putting debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Suneeta Peres da Costa
Who she? Suneeta Peres da Costa was born in Sydney in 1976 to Portuguese Goan parents She is currently based in New York, studying for her Master of Fine Arts on a Fulbright scholarship Her literary inspirations inciude lung, Kafka and The Bible
Her debut It's called Horiieivork and dissects the half—truths, heady myths and hilarious idioscyncracies of family life The author herself sees it as 'a novel about the labour of loying'
First sentence test 'I had not set out to steal sunshine that Winter Even at six years old, I could no more believe I was a burglar than that sunlight might be bought When the time came it is true that I had neither alibis nor appeals to my advantage, but if my crime was premec‘litated there was a reason for this I could feel my mother growrng cold '
Basically Basic ally, it's about a child lvlina Pereii'a whose head antennae pr'Oyide her wrth insight and perception unusual in one so young He" riiothei, a depressed kleptomaiiiac ‘.Vllll an egg obsession, runs a tyrannical household while her father is an impotent revolutionary and a DIY freak ‘Free Cioa' were lvlina's first words
Grand claims corner ‘Perhaps publishers still hoping to find the new Arundhati Roy should stop looking' The Weekend Australia/i opts for the not-putting-too-much-pressure-on- such-yourig-shoulders 'node of reViewmg
To whom the book is for 'For iity father, With love '
One for the future In between her studies in Creative Writing, she is working on a play about the philosopher Walter BOIIJleIIll who killed himself while escaping the Ncl/IS in 1941 (Brian Donaldson)
I! Homework is pub/ished by B/oomsbury priced [ I4 99
ZI Oct—4 Nov I999 THE lIST‘l13