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Current Edition – Scottish Review of Books

Current Edition

SRB at the Theatre: Strindberg in Perth

May 20, 2019

  The programme, obviously, attributes the work to August Strindberg but adds that it has been adapted by Zinnie Harris, a writer much admired for a series of mordant plays which deal unflinchingly with issues of our times. However, the words ‘adapted by’ now cause a flutter of apprehension...

Like a Dragonfly

May 20, 2019

  SPRING: the season when hares dance, sun follows cloudburst, and the land grows green and blossomy. It is also when energy returns, not just to the earth but to those of us thirled to the rhythms of daylight and dark. Even without stepping out of doors, you can tell the sap is rising. That sense...

Stone Voices

May 20, 2019
by David Black

  STATUES may be inert and silent, but they can rouse passions. Consider Oxford’s Cecil Rhodes, or Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, creepily weaponized to goad liberal sentiment with defiant representations of Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davies. Edinburgh’s civic monuments cause little...

SRB Diary: In Jaipur

May 20, 2019
by Kapka Kassabova

  Ghosts Few places on earth are more unlike each other than the light-filled Highlands of Scotland where I live and the congested heart of Old Delhi where I came to stay with my partner Tony in a restored haveli-hotel, en route to the Jaipur Literature Festival. I thought I was prepared. As a...

Malinger: A Short Story

May 20, 2019
by Dilys Rose

  Stella hated tears. Especially in the consulting room. At the tail end of a long winter, being exposed to sniffs and snivels and associated forms of mucoid expectoration was unavoidable; she kept her distance and carried on. Lacrimal fluid was another matter; the male variety in particular. Female...

In Search of Seamus

May 20, 2019
by Alan Taylor

The village of Bellaghy has become a place of pilgrimage not for martyrs but for poetry lovers who come to pay homage to Seamus Heaney who died in 2013, aged 73. The grave and its simple headstone are a modest tribute to a writer who is credited with unifying his country and who remained faithful to...


May 20, 2019
by Ian Stephen

  THERE is already a strong body of responses, in oral literature, song, story, drama, fiction and non-fiction to the loss of 201 lives within yards of Holm shore at the entrance to Stornoway harbour on the first morning of 1919. It took the combination of oral language and melody for the grieving...

For the Good Times

May 20, 2019
by Alasdair McKillop

  ‘FUCKING Glasgow, my friend, it’s just like Belfast, the same rivalries, the same segregated pubs, the same halls, the same murals, the same fucking teams; a friendly city once you get to know it. Plus you’re just as likely to get stabbed for your colours as you are back home, so as you...


May 20, 2019
by Peter Ross

  ROBERT Macfarlane, whose career has been in steep ascent since 2003, began with a book about mountains – their fatal, perhaps even natal allure; in such places one can meet one’s death yet also feel reborn. He is known as a prose-poet of high places, ‘north-minded’ as he once called himself,...

Second Thoughts

May 20, 2019
by Nick Major

  IN the reviewing trade, a new book can drop through the letterbox at nine o’clock one morning, and be read, reviewed and put on a shelf, or in the charity box, by six the following evening. As Norman Mailer once pointed out, ‘the underlying force in book reviewing is journalism’. It is...

Hearths and Homes: An Essay

May 20, 2019
by Zoë Strachan

  ONCE at Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Orkney, I saw a ring of wave-beaten stones, each one large enough to sit on, enclosing a pile of charred driftwood. Years later, on the beach at Maidens, not so far from where I grew up in Ayrshire, I caught the last shock of flame in a smaller stone...

New Poems

May 20, 2019
by Hayden Murphy

  2. In the ages of Owls his companions Were the bipeds with hands. No beak, No plumage, round shaped feet, no talons, No hunting skills, No talent Apart from words. Ancestor Owl learnt from Cousin Kestrel To understand, to calibrate the edge That borders celebration in their gift of tongues. That...

Remembering WS Graham

May 20, 2019
by Brian Morton

  FOR Sydney Graham, a poem was a pebble tossed into a pond. We can use the image with reasonable but limited confidence, for though it was not the poet’s own, he once approved it with a tight nod and the faintest of smiles. The pond was, of course, language, to which Sydney himself usually attributed...