SHORT STORIES AMY BLOOM
A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You (Picador $76.99 0...
Short stones can seem a little throwaway. but anyone who does not savour Amy Bloom's collection of sharp tales is missing out. She focuses on families -- from the dysfunctional to tho entirely unfunctronrng and on inter-generatronal relationships that are characterised by hate. love and lust.
Featured here are a mother whose daughter is. courtesy of a surgeon's knife. soon to become her son: a
husband torn between his cancer-stricken wife and their long- time friend; and an artist who wrecks the lives of others to salvage her own. Bloom's gift is to find resonance and a kind of transcendence in the bleakest of scenarios. as in ‘Hold Trght'. where a mother's death reforms a long-lost affection between father and son.
Bloom's narratives are fragmented. and can seem little more than snapshots. But her spare. sparse method of storytelling means no word is wasted. and the gaps that she leaves say more than a bargain bin of pulp fiction ever could. (James Smart) CONTEMPORARY SMITH
Misadventures (Canongate $6.99) 0...
A curious debut by a curious lady. reading Misadventures is like staring through a Window and watching a
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random office tea- break. The events related do not express an era or an attitude. They are timeless in their utter banality: yet. there is something attractive about Sylvia Smith's set of fables and mini-parables.
There is a sense of honesty in these anecdotal tales of her flatmate's dubious hygiene habits. the amorous. \«vrfe—seekrng foreigners. and the host of temporary secretarial Jobs. Perhaps it comes from her detached narrative. a natural. instinctive ObjOCIlVlly controlled by Smith that would be the envy of Camus. Perhaps rt is her charming. polite and modest nature that slowly emerges as the years progress.
Smith expresses an indrvrdual woman of age in a manner wholly indrvrdual to the author. Misadventures is a rarity in its lack of pretension. a surprise of a novel. and an original and stylised debut.
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SWIC RS HI ,'\I") I \(i W Rt "l l (.i
An hour with two of the UK's most talented writers . . .
Martin Amis and Zadie Smith come to Edinburgh to collect the lames Tait Black Memorial Prize. Scotland's oldest literary prize. They are taking the stage together for the first time for a question and answer session.
WEDNESDAY 3|ST OCTOBER AT GEORGE SQUARE THEATRE. THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
“free pairs of tickets If” U51 readers. just send a stamped“
CHI AIIVI WRITING
La Creme De La Creme (Canongate 579‘.” .0.
In music (our'nalisn‘. likening an artist's lyrics to sixth for‘n‘ poetry is about the biggest insult going. (ZOllell'lltt) up images of cringex'ir)rthy. self—prtyrng. self- conscrous t'ih:nges. Well. this intriguing book is a collection of the best
SCOT llSll HISTORY
MICHAEL LYNCH ED.
The Oxford Companion To Scottish History (Oxford University Press £730) .00.
TH E OXFORD COMPANION To
EDIT}? I) It‘t"
LYN C H
More than nostalgic wallowing
A comp!arnt often levelled at the Scots rs that rote nothing better than to wallon'x in nostalgia. This tendency to look backwards through tartan-coloured spectacles can be blarrted on the type of histon; that is focused on in schools. From Bannockburn to Man. Oueen of Scots. through to the Young Pretender. Culloden and the Highland Clearances. popular Scots hzstory has. until recently. dwelt on those events and figures that reinforce the notion of the Scots as a nation of oppressed heroes.
Michael Lynch's Coiifpaitroit Io Scott's“ Hsforz'. now III its sexenth edition. arms to dispel with the mythologrsrng ‘\.'.rhr!e pr‘()‘.rdrrtg a con‘prehensr‘.e guide to the nation's history from its earliest origins o the present day \VIII‘ contributions from around 1:30 historians. this is a fat \Oltllltt‘. ‘.'.rrrtten .'.'rt.'n humour and attention to surprising details that can be tipped ante and enjoyed at lmsure. but whose accessibility makes it a compelling read.
Where the guide impresses most is :n the breadth of its subject matter. For a history of a country that is often accused of I‘:err‘g introspectrte. the book outlines Scotland's relationships with other nations. as '.'.re|i as our political. economic and cultural history leading up to 9001.
What emerges is a portrait of a natzon susta:ned by the strength of its institutions ischools. church. courts- rather than our imagined collective stoicism. Inevitably. many of the entries end on a question mark -‘.'.rhat now for Scotland post -de\.io|ution’?l leavrng the impression that '.'.'e are ll‘.’l."rtl through perhaps the most formative period in recent history rAllan Radcliffe
and ‘.'.rhat's pleasant!y
CAMERON ‘ I I ‘ r ‘ WYLLIE & surprising about it is GORDON JARV|E box'.’ damn fine the EDS_ painting is it places.
A ir‘ix of t>()ei‘.‘s. short stones and essays. the :iualitt and subject matter are wildly \arrable. as yOu might expect. althotigh there are some real gems hidden ‘.'."fllll‘. espeCIaIIy amongst the notoriously difficult short ston genre. There is inevitably a youthful naitety to the \(tl'lOtlS ‘.'OlC(—?S on display and a concentration on
CSYS ()reatrx e \N’rrting from Scottish schools over the past ten years,