LITERARY CITY GUIDE Andrew Lownie The Literary Companion To Edinburgh (Methuen £9.99)

Auld Reekie wears her literary tradition with pride. Waverley Station, most visitors' point of embarkation to the capital, is named after the hero of Walter Scott's successful novels and the city is steeped in other literary associations: the blackened Gothic spire of the Scott Monument, the Heart of Midlothian, the statue of Greyfriars Bobby.

Using the old town as its starting point, The Literary Companion To Edinburgh provides a comprehensive guide to this rich heritage, exploring the old haunts and hideaways of the city's celebrated sons and daughters. Though clearly an avid admirer of Scott, Burns, Stevenson, Muriel Spark, Conan Doyle and other well- kent names associated with the centre, author Andrew Lownie's tour extends to the surrounding schemes and villages, including entries for recent bestsellers such as Ian Rankin's Rebus novels.

Lownie also discloses the numerous non-native writers with Lothian connections, from Daniel Defoe, who worked as a journalist in the city and Charles Dickens, who predated Big Country and Graham Norton by performing at the Assembly Rooms, to World War I poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. The latter wrote Dulce Et Decorum Est whilst convalescing at Craiglockhart Hospital.

The city's unique location and distinctive architecture have proved particularly adept in stimulating creative juices. Stevenson complained that 'Edinburgh pays cruelly for her high seat in one of the vilest climates under heaven', but the Kidnapped author remained fascinated by his birthplace, using it as a location for his unfinished novel, Weir Of Hermiston. And, despite their ostensible London settings, Stevenson and Conan Doyle had the dark closes and shadowy street doors of Edinburgh in mind for Jekyll And Hyde and the early Sherlock Holmes adventures.

As Lownie points out, Edinburgh's strong Calvinist tradition can also be traced through literary explorations of morality and evil, most notably in James Hogg's influential Confessions Of A Justified Sinner. As a city that has always prided itself on its education, the 18th century ‘enlightenment’ brought Edinburgh a reputation as ‘a hotbed of genius', producing world- renowned thinkers like David Hume and Adam Smith.

Yet the capital's social inequality has also inspired several key works, from The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie

LOVE ESSAYS bell hooks All About Love

(The Women's Press £8.99)

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A hotbed of genius and social inequality

to Trainspotting. lnevitably, Lownie's guide has its share of omissions. Passing reference to adopted Edinburghers Kate Atkinson and J.K. Rowling would have brought the writers' roll call bang up to date, and more could have been made of the Traverse Theatre's ongoing contribution to nurturing local playwrights. Otherwise meticulously and thoroughly researched, the book is a useful and enjoyable asset to any fan of the city and its literature. (Allan Radcliffe)

The Lrterary Companron To Edinburgh rs pub/rshed on Thu 6 Jul. See events.

and cultural theorrsts tackles everythrng from how we Learn what love rs as chrldren to what we suppose rt to be as adults rn search of the holy grarl of Irfetrme partnershrp, and teases out the

A self-help book with wit and insight

102 THE LIST 6 27) Jul 2000

What do we talk about when we talk about love7 How should we defrne rt, guantrfy rt, prn rt down7 Some mrght say that thrs rs a tl'rankless task from the word go, that to try and reduce such a rrtlr, complex phenomenon to a des( rrptron, to a Irst of characterrstrcs, rs to rnrss the pornt entrrely Love rs too rntangrble, too elusrve to descrrbe, rt's just there, rt just happens. Bell hooks would drsagree, and rn All About Love, she sets out her case Part phrlosophrcal treatrse, part medrtatrve mernorr and part self-rmprovement thesrs, All About Love rs a thorough exploratron, through thrrteen lrnked essays, cf' the subject of love Abandonrng the drrnIy-Irt (orrrdors of acadernrc theorrsrng, hooks one of Arnerrta's most respetted femrnrst

lessons to be learned from the rnrstakes we make

ans rs a broad-rangrng but easrly acressrble work, hooks rs well (inle of the prttalls of abstract theorrsrng, groundrrrg her wrrtrng rn her own experrences and drawmg on her strong relrgrous t'arth And, apart from the chapters ('onternrng what she refers to as Drvrne love and (()lt’lll‘.lllll(’lll, whrch edge (lose to the (onrng language of the standard sell-rrnpro\./ement tr’art, she pulls off the remarkable feat of wrrtrng a self- help book drrven by wrt, empathy and rnsrg'nt on one's often futrle labours (Leon McDermottl

A// About Love rs pub/rshetl on Thu 6 Jul.

First writes

Putting debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Michael Kimball.

Who he? In 1998, Mrchael Krmball recerved a grant from the prestrgrous New York Foundatron of the Arts to wrrte hrs debut. He lrves rn Lubbock, Texas, wrth hrs wrfe, Trta Chrca.

His debut It's called The Way The Famr/y Got Away and tells the tale of a poor famrly’s jOurney from Texas rn the south, across Amerrca, to Ivlrchrgan by the great northern lakes. The jOurney rs narrated by the lamrly's two chrldren, a young boy and hrs younger srster, and rt’s through therr eyes that we learn the object of the mo Therr baby brother has dred and after preservrng the body and placrng rt rn a toy box, they take hrm to be burred wrth hrs ancestors, sellrng everythrng the famrly owns on the way to pay for gas.

Basically _ . Basrcally, rt’s wrrtten rn the grand tradrtron of Amerrcan authors Irke Faulkner and Sternbeck, followrng srmrlar styles of frrst person dralect narratron and eprc storylrnes where humanrty rs tested to the Irmrt, By choosrng to have chrldren narrate thrs macabre tale of hardshrp, Krmball really makes the sense of loss and drsplacement hrt home.

Grand claims corner 'It rs once In every decade or maybe even once every generatron that an Amerrcan wrrter wrrtes a novel that redefrnes Amerrcan Irterature. Mrchael Krmball rs one of these great wrrters and hrs novel, The Way The Famr/y Got Away, wrll redefrne the Amerrcan novel' rnsrsts controversral Amerrcan crrtrc, author and publrsher Gordon Lrsh.

First line test ’My brother's cradle and other baby stuff got us from Mrneola to Brrthrock’

To whom the book is dedicated ’For Bompa.’ (Catherrne Bromley)

The Way The Family Got Away is pub/rshed by Fourth Estate on Thu 6 Ju/ prrced f 70,

‘A novel that i'cdcfinces American literature-T