BOOKS BOOKS REVIEW continued
Paul Watkins The Forger (Faber £999) is r s s a
Paris, 1939 and a French-speaking American artrst arrives rn the City of romance, full of dreams and fulfrllrng a lrfe-long ambition to lrve and work there Until World War II breaks out and hrs whole exrstence alters dramatically. A graphic portrait of how the German occupation of Paris affected people's lrves follows, burldrng a devastating prcture of the pressures placed on thrs yOung man; pressures whrch betrayed the artistic talents he held so dear.
This portrait really comes to lrfe though, through the relationshrp between the cantankerous teacher Pankratov, and Halrfax, the eager puprl slowly unravellrng the real reason he was chosen to be there.
Albert slow movrng, the slothful style of Paul Watkrns enables you to take your trme and really burld an image of wartime Paris. The descriptive genius of the author challenges y0u in a way that creates a beautrful work of frctron, in effect hrs own Botticelli masterpiece. (Aly Burt)
Henr Sutton Flying( ceptre £12.99) a * rr w
Talk about a tight remit. Henry Sutton has chosen to confrne himself to the thoughts and conversations of the flrght and cabin crews on an arrlrner making a round trrp from London, Heathrow to New York, JFK, There’s no
116 THE lIST 20 Jul—3 Aug 2000
description of the long haul, only the srghts and thoughts of, among others, newly—engaged Becky, lecherous old Dan and closet queen Nigel.
As a concept, as almost too lrmrtrng; mrdway through the outward flrght a tedrum sets in and you could happrly drop it. But not for long. The fascination of the idea rs that the different characters are revealed by stealth and subtle clues. And the rntrrgue gets a significant boost on the return Journey, when all that happened rn the rntervenrng turnaround has to be surmrsed from the characters’ musings. But one thing rs for sure; read thrs and taking the plane won’t ever be the same agarn. (Thom Drbdrn)
ROCK 'N' ROLL FICTION
Standing Room Only (Flame £10) k * Havrng been described as a rock 'n' roll fairytale, Standing Room Only manages to mrss the mark completely. Farrytales have a pornt; thrs does not, Apart, perhaps, for rts acute observations of the lifestyle of over- prrvrleged north London types durrng the dying glow of the 20th century. For that servrce to socrology, rt gets an extra star.
Otherwrse, the story of a middling rrch and famous grrl who dates and then manages a middling rrch and famous rock starlet, is pure wrsh- fulfrlment fantasy. When lvlrlls & Boon start an rmprrnt rn whrch the heromes smoke big splrffs, know the Cultural significance of wearing a Blur T-shrrt and have super-brtchy girlfriends who are models, then Eva Rice Wlll be at the top of their author lrsts. If you like yOur novels to be shallow and inane then pick it up for a beach holrday.
The Pleasure Express (Arrow £5.99)
A’ it i
For her thrrd novel, Edinburgh-based author Sara Sheridan has upped strcks from her famrlrar Scottrsh surroundrngs for a vrsrt to pre—handover Hong Kong. A chance meetrng wrth a genral prmp turns the rather too nonchalant central character Kate on to the world of hrgh class prostitutron. The darker side of her professron comes to Irght vra the gangsters who run her livelihood and soon en0ugh, Kate and her frrend Rosre have their world upturned and their lrves threatened.
The schrzophrenrc geography of Hong Kong rs skrlfully rllustrated and the contrast of the cramped city and capacrous hrlls provrde a spectacular backdrop on whrch to burld a story. The plot turns are occasronally predictable and Kate's rdyllrc lrfe masks, to a worryrngly large extent, any dangers in such a vocation. However, her apparent nrhrlrsm rs offset somewhat by a plot which snares the reader and burlds wrth consrderable tensron and grace. (Mark Robertson)
Rosalyn Chrssrck Colourbook (Sceptre £6.99) 1% it Rosalyn Chrssrck doesn’t shrrnk away from taboos. Incest rs her chorce in her second novel, Colourbook. A brother and sister’s overpowerrng love for each
other grows wrthrn a famrly born in lres and warped wrth hate and resentment. Pia and Luke attempt to escape therr parents’ regrets through each other, but later end up in a bleak world of drugs and prostitutron.
Chrssrck rs a poet as well as a novelrst and her use of language rs where the book’s strengths Ire. She is economrc With words but hrgth evocative, whether parntrng pictures of cold seasrde towns or the shattered dreams of her characters. But those dreams are doomed to failure and therr lrves brtter and empty, and here is where the book falls short. We feel compassron for the characters but a sense of inevitability and tragedy permeates throughout, leavrng the reader feeling as drsappornted as the doomed characters. (Loursa Pearson)
COMEDY FICTION Joe Orton
Between Us Girls (Methuen £6.99) tssts
Wrrtten seven years before he found fame wrth plays SUCh as Entertaining Mr
Sloane and Loot, Between Us Girls was one of Joe Orton’s frrst solo novels; many of hrs early efforts had been wrrtten rn collaboratron wrth partner, mentor and murderer Kenneth Halliwell.
lt rnrtrally appears drppy, wrrtten as the drary of Susan Hope, a I9SOs rngenue starting out as a dancer seekrng fame and fortune. Her srmple and narve language nevertheless presents a girl lrvrng m a seedy and sinister world. Her trust and vulnerabrlrty lead her rnto danger but she rs lucky and lands on her feet. But as a moral frt for Orton's own success, fame comes wrth a prrce.
Girls is the frrst rn a series of prev:ously unreleased Orton books to hrt the streets rn paperback form. Too shockrng for rts trme, thrs brref novel rs a breeze whose genius lres rn the words unsard. (Ally Hardy)
” STAR nAriNGs '—
* * i s *' Unmrssable
*1 r t * Very good
it t * Worth a shot
it t Below average
at You’ve been warned
THURSDAY 20 Edinburgh
Jack Vettriano \‘l'aterstone‘s. I29 Princes Street. 226 2666. 6pm. Free. Published to celebrate \r'ettt‘iano's life and work. Lovers And Strangers (Paviliott £25) is the first monograph of his paintings. He will be appearing to sign copies of this new book.
SATURDAY 22 Kirkcaldy
Jack Vettriano Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. War Memorial Gardens. 01592 412860. .\'oon—2pm. See Thu 20.
TUESDAY 25 Edinburgh
Roger Protz Waterstone's. l3—I4 Princes Street. 556 3034. 7pm. £1 (redeemable against the price of the
book ). Author of 500 Best Pubs in Britain ((‘arlton £16.99) is on hand to answer all yottr questions with drink available. of
Jack Vettriano Glasgow Film Theatre. 12 Rose Street. 332 8128. 6.30pm. £2.50. Vettriano is in conversation with Kevin McMunigal.
Raymond Lamont-Brown Waterstone's. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. 6.30pm. Free. Based on research in public. private and royal archives as well as diaries and interviews. Lamont-Brown has produced a fascinating study of Queen Victoria's relationship to John Brown. Queen Victoria 's Highland Servant (Sutton £19.99).
Edinburgh John Plimmer & Bob Long
Waterstone's. 13—14 Princes Street. 556 3034. 6pm. Free. John Plimmer and Bob Long grew tip and went to school together. Long became a soldier who eventually turned to crime. Plimmer became a detective in the West Midlands police force only to find himself in charge of arresting his former schoolmate in an
attempted armed robbery. Long did time during which he became connected with hiin profile criminals btit the two have now come together to collaborate on a fascinating novel about crime and corruption The Inside Track (House ()f Stratus £8.99).
Cabaret In The Cafe Borders Books. 283 Buchanan Street. 222 7700. 8pm. Robert Knox hosts a unique mix of music. performance poetry. spoken word and stand tip comedy.
Philip l‘lillS Holyrood Hotel. Holyrootl Road. 550 4500. 7pm. £4. Hills talks about his connoisseur's guide to whisky .‘lP/HY’t‘lYlUIlE’ ll'hisky (HarperC‘ollins £6.99) and leads a tasting session of line whiskies.
Jack Vettriano Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. War Memorial Gardens. 01592 412860. Noon-~2pm. See Thu 20.
Waterstone’s/GFT Film Quiz (ilasgovv l’ilm Theatre. 12 Rose Street. 332 8128. 8.45pm. £1. Mega-popular quiz, —- as ever. enter as a learn of no more than fottr people attd book early to avoid disappointment.
Susie Maguire James Thin. 5369 South Bridge. 622 8222. 6.30pm. Free. ('omic and radio presenter Maguire reads from The Short Hello (Polygon £8.99). her latest collection of short stories about love. film stars and sleuths.
Rody Gorman Scottish Poetry Library. 5 C'richton's ('lose. (‘anongatu 557 2876. 6.30pm. Free. The author of ()n The (.71l/(l‘g’l'ﬂlllic/ (Air 3‘ 't'har/iat/ I-o 'I'halainh) (Polygon £7.99) reads from his second collection of poems in Gaelic. published here with linglish translations. Out Loud Athletic Arms. Angle Park 'l‘errace. 337 3822. 7.30pm. £1 donation. Monthly open mic night of poetry. prose and song rttn by the Phoenix \Vr'itei's‘ Group. Performers and readers welcome. For more information contact mail(ajtilieclark.co.trk.