V UNDER THE COVERS
Musselburgh-born comedian and TV presenter Rhona Cameron talks about two authors who are currently keeping her awake at night and why she is writing a thank-you letter to Roseanne Arnold.
‘I really found my ideal author that I absolutely adore in Charles Bukowski. ltind it hard to read anything else apart from autobiographies because they give you a chance to identify with something or somebody. I always have a copy of Bukowski’s flight On Earth poems by my bed. I lose myself in a
book because it was a real insight into how he first got to make his films. I love the drinking and womanising in his books - I can identify with that as I’ve always been a bit of a drinker. He’s so down to earth in his writing, it’s so matter-of-fact, tell-it-like-it-is and hard hitting. It’s sometimes disturbing but he’s got a heart as well. He says ‘ ‘If you don’t know how to be - be kind.” I think that’s really nice. I love him because he's an old drinker but at the same time very creative.
At the moment I’m reading the Roseanne Arnold autobiography, Roseanne — My Lives, which is just fantastic, so much so that I’m having to write to Roseanne and personally thank her for the book. There are so many parallels I could draw with her life just before she was doing stand up and mine. And the things she says about childhood and everything. I identify with Roseanne because she was a woman who felt, in a way, persecuted when she was young and I think that I found things quite difficult when I was young too. Roseanne’s got this reputation of being a “difficult woman” to work with and she wrote this book to dispel all these rumours. I have to say that I quite agree with what she’s saying about TV being run by men and what she was up against.
She gives a really practical account of how she became a stand up and it’s also a really good insight into showbusiness. Roseanne says that all the messing around before she became a stand up was all just research. It was all just practising and waiting which is the way I felt as well when l was living in Edinburgh. The last reason why I love the book so much is because it has got a lot of spiritual things in it that I can identify with as I’m on a bit of a spiritual quest this year, being 28. it’s the year you’re supposed to whittle down all the rubbish in your life preparing for your 303.’ (Ann Donald)
Bukowski book. Hollywood was a great
WEEK:— DREAM STATE
i I The Daydreamer lan McEwan (Cape g £8 99) Ten—year-old Peter Fortune is another of McEwan's children lost in
i time. But unlike the uneasy fate ofthe
infant Kate in A Child In Time . Peter controls his destiny in a world of his own fantastic imagination.
Dreaming day and night and having some of the most bizarre out of body experiences. Peter‘s awakenings bring a discerning understanding for others. gained through becoming them. Perhaps the most freakish yet lucid of Peter’s fantasies is disturbingly illustrated on the cover. showing Peter as William the ancient pet cat. The amazing description of ‘unzipping’ the skin and fur to swap outer appearances makes the reader want to believe in the magical implausibility ofa child‘s imagination. Peter's insight helps him treat William‘s sudden death with the philosophical words ‘lle's gone on to another adventure‘.
Eventually Peter realises that life is but a dream and death the ultimate awakening. Whether children find these ideas fantastic. terrifying or comforting is debatable. but they definitely lure the adult reader back to a time too easily forgotten. (Katy Lironi)
I Insomnia Stephen King (Hodder &
Stoughton £15.99) Another year.
1 another Stephen King thrill, another dip
into the woodshed of middle-class.
white America. And it‘s page turning
j stuff: you‘d expect nothing less from
i King. master ofthe hanging ending. the
' atmospheric chill and the exploitation
l of your deepest fears.
When Ralph’s wife dies he stops sleeping, at creeping debilitation that
sees him waking earlier and earlier
each day until he starts seeing things.
I The Picador Book Of Contemporary American Stories Edited by Tobias Wolff (Picador £7.99) This is a thick. juicy, Whopper of a book — 42 short stories by contemporary American writers spread over more than 700 pages. not one of which is a waste of space. The beauty of such a tome is you t can dip into it for a brief five minute
i escape from reality or make a day of it. draw the curtains. unplug the phone
and lose yourself in the vast expanses
of America‘s open wildernesses and
' teeming cities.
The huge variety of the States is captured well in this wide-ranging selection of tales. The settings. characters and moods of the stories are as diverse as the continent itself. telling 3 of both the exterior America which any visitor can see and the interior
hallucinating wildly and descending into a state of near madness. So far. so creepy. The first couple of hundred pages deftly meld basic fears with a bang up-to-date plot about anti-abortion activists threatening to murder a pro- choice speaker invited to Ralph‘s small town.
But then it just turns silly: 70-year-old Ralph starts interacting with his hallucinated reality. gets younger and teams up with a widowed neighbour. Which would be fine. if the pace did not slow to a dull plod. It‘s still King.
; but he’s sleep walking: a ‘ disappointment. (Thom Dibdin)
America. existing in the hearts and psyches ofthose who live there. (Jonathan Trew)
7 cnumpy oLo MEN
I Writing Home Alan Bennett (Faber and Faber £17.50) From Leeds via Oxford University. Alan Bennett has been serious Britain’s bump under the carpet since the early 60s. Slabs of social satire gilded with pathos straddle the chasm between Bennett’s provincial Northern roots and the metropolitan.
3 middle class literary world of his peers with dead pan. self-effacing humour.
i But as one of the country's most
l entertaining scribes. Bennett is also
; unafraid of sending himself up. of treating himself with the same honesty
I as his subjects. That is why this volume
i ofdiaries. reminiscences. broadcasts
and reviews are so fascinating. We see Bennett the writer. working. thinking and finding inspiration in the most
i diverse events. his voice a monotone. a E conftding and colourful buzz in the car. 1 One of the highlights is The Lady in
i Van. an account ofthe final years of Miss S. the social casualty that lived in a run down. extremely smelly vehicle in his driveway. But this is no tale of a good Samaritan. rather a struggle between the manipulator and the manipulated. with Bennett coming out as an uncharitable and grumpy old push-over. (Beatrice Colin)
I The Robber Bride Margaret Atwood (Virago £5.99) Crappy cover. cracking contents. Zenia is dead. She was demanding. alluring and self-obsessed. her destructive influence clouding the lives of Tony. Charis and R07. — but five years later she reappears and the women must fight her once again. Skilful characterisation is coupled with Atwood's poetic prose and surreal overtones in an accessible. captivating read.
I Websters’ First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language Conjured by Mary Daly in cahoots with Jane Caputi (Women's Press £l2.99) ‘. . . Daly‘s . . . Web-Work of words frees the English language front its patriarchal and conﬁning patterns by weaving a fascinating. feminist. linguistic revolution.‘ A complex series of dictionaries containing definitions. pertinent passages and examples supported by explanatory chapters and appendices. this will separate the. uhem, women from the girls — patience required.
I My ldea Oi Fun Will Self (Penguin £5.99) lan Warton exudes normality and success. In reality he is a spectacularly warped. sick man. This analytical and anecdotal. witty and weird trawl through both his past and the gaggle of sinister. memorable characters therein and the strange mechanics of his mind let us decide why. Demanding but compulsive. Sell"s writing is clever. original and very fulfilling.
I The Alphabet Carden: European Short Stories Edited by Pete Ayrton (Serpent‘s Tail £8.99) A partly EC—funded showcase of twelve authors. each from a different country (with Michele Roberts doing the business for Britain). each with an impressive track record. This collection covers diverse ground and provides much cultural insight but. unfortunately. is patchy in places. A good idea which. one suspects. loses something in the proverbial translation.
I Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow Peter Hoeg (Flamingo £5.99) Greenlander. Stnilla Japerson makes a dogged detective in Hoeg‘s strong second novel. Beginning in Copenhagen with the seemingly accidental death of a child the story moves to the Arctic ice-cap where both temperature and plot become more chilling as the truth and Smilla's suspicions are uncovered. A chunky. psychological thriller. seductively and delicately written. Snow is quietly compulsive. (Susan Mackenzie)
BO The List 7—20 October 1994