TH E O N N Who would you rather curl up with on the sofa with, glass of Chardonnay in hand?

The new radicals?

As the Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair comes to town, is there a place for literature with a conscience? Words: Brian Donaldson

I must be tough being a radical these days. When the events of II

September altered the shape of New York‘s skyline. we were also promised

a wind of change in the way we thought about life. ’e would take more care of our nearest and dearest. we would cease to live in a soulless. go- getting. self-satisfying. egomaniacal culture. ()ur petty concerns would take second place to the greater good. In other words. we'd get more political.

But what has happened? Arnie is back on screen and India Knight has published another book. And the biggest waves of recent public emotion have not been exercised on the lack of a proper health service. the continuing plight of starving Afghan children or the threat to remove child benefit from those who need it most: they’ve been spent on grieving over a footballers broken ankle and the death of a woman most of us hadn‘t met and who’d been years past her use-by date. liven the May Day

parades seemed to be fought out with days,

llare in one hand. Queensbury Rulebook

in the other. your “ea-reSt So. how does the literary world fit

into all this? Well. not very well. As well ' ' ' as India Knight’s book about a desperate woman gagging to find a man. Arabella be as to

Weir has a new one out about a desperate offer a course

woman gagging to find a man. Men. of

course. are no better. Nick Hornby and on than

'I‘ony Parsons may write books which

keep them chuckling under the duvet at

night. but their chief role is to foster a

culture of false contentment where the worst thing that can happen to you is that you might lose your continental girlfriend. The worst things in life are a bit harsher than that.

Of course. there is obviously a place for all this self-centred shallow drivel but why does it have to be so prominent in the hear—led culture? A book like the forthcoming tome on (ieorge ()rwell by Christopher Hitchens (on the back of his potent analysis of that nasty old Henry Kissinger) is a rare cause for excitement for the browser with a conscience. These days. your nearest academic institution may be as likely to offer a course on Bart than Barthes.

It's great that there is a festival like the Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair. which comes to the Assembly Rooms from l7—-l‘) May. There are some great names at the event but why do such bookish beanfeasts occur just once a year? No doubt. cash and organisation woes are at the heart of it but once it‘s over. when are we likely to see Tariq Ali or Linton Kwesi Johnson returning to motivate our minds? Or maybe Bridget Jones is the one who has really caught the zeitgeist. Now. isn't that worth taking to the streets for?

Disagree? react@|

The Front

1.7.3 -. ’r. till?) laSLlE‘

1 The Alan Partridge Story

TV A tribute to the king of smarm with every single episode of The Day Today, Knowing Me Knowing You and I ’m Alan Partridge. Ah-haa! See review, page 103. 8802.

2 Attack Of The Clones Film The latest Star Wars adventure is set to be light years ahead of The Phantom Menace. See feature and preview, pages 12. General release.

3 Lambchop

Music Dolorous countrified magic and very probably the pick of this year’s Big Big Country. Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow.

4 Victory

Theatre Howard Barker’s earthy, poetic language is invested with real humour by a top cast in this historical metaphor. See review. page 65. Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh.

5 Scottish Dance Theatre Dance SDT make their first ever appearance at the Festival Theatre with work which includes a new piece by Jan de Schynkel. See preview, page 66. Festival Theatre, Edinburgh.

6 Edinburgh International Radical Book Fair

Books Tariq Ali, Alice Thompson (pictured), Angus Calder, Linton Kwesi Johnson and James Kelman are among the speakers at this year's radical literary beanfeast. See preview, page 101. Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh.

7 Ghost World

Video Allow Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson into your homes as they try to fight off conformity and dull jobs in the comic book adaptation. See review, page 110. Icon.

8 Impotent Fury

Clubs Fred Deakin brings his latest maverick night north with the seen—to- be-believed Wheel Of Destiny stealing the show. See preview, page 76. Venue, Edinburgh.

9 Mandy Knight & Reverend Obadiah Steppenwolfe

Comedy The queen of filth and the lord of the sardonic sermon switch on your giggleboxes. See preview. page 72. The Stand, Glasgow.

10 Facing The Light

Art Groundbreaking photography from 19th century Scottish snappers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. See preview, page 89. National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

‘3 13.7.2. Q THE LIST 9