Current Edition

Volume 12 Issue 3 Editorial

June 10, 2017

Here at the Scottish Review of Books we choose our heroes carefully. One such is Richard Hoggart. His is not a name, we acknowledge, which will be familiar to many readers, even those of a ‘certain’ age. But to many baby boomers Hoggart epitomized an era – the two decades immediately following...

The SRB Interview: John Byrne

June 9, 2017

James Baldwin said that ‘painters have often taught writers how to see’. One could argue that every time John Byrne sits down to paint a picture his writerly imagination is being nurtured. His plays have a vibrancy, wildness and precise detail evident in his earliest primitive paintings. Byrne excels...

SRB DIARY: Going Back To Okinawa

June 9, 2017
by Alan Taylor

The island of Okinawa lies in the East China Sea some four hundred miles to the south-west of mainland Japan. Before I visited it, at the invitation of the Japanese Foreign Press Centre, I knew of it only because of Ry Cooder’s rollicking ‘Going Back to Okinawa’ and its reputation as the site...

Woman of Letters

June 10, 2017
by Rosemary Goring

The figure of Thomas Carlyle looms over the Victorian literary scene like a giant from the imagination of George MacDonald. The Sage of Ecclefechan, whose spiritual memoir Sartor Resartus and magisterial The French Revolution – famously rewritten after the original manuscript was accidentally thrown...

Flowers of Scotland

June 9, 2017
by David Black

Some books, like old sepia calotypes, have a way of freezing a moment in time. The scenes captured by Victorian photographers were largely unpeopled, thanks to their long exposure times. A child may pose on a doorstep, face screwed up against the sun, a fishwife may stand guarding her creel; otherwise...

Remembering Yevtushenko

June 9, 2017
by Allan Massie

It is a bit disconcerting to read of the death of someone you didn’t realize was still alive. Actually I had no reason to think of Yevgeny Yevtushenko as dead. It’s just that I hadn’t heard of him for a long time. I suppose it should have been no surprise to learn that he had been living and teaching...

Ayrshire’s Other Bard

June 9, 2017
by Andrew O'Hagan

Overlooking the graveyard in Greenock where John Galt is buried, there is now a sheltered housing block named after him. Its residents remember the Renfrewshire town as it used to be, but they also feel remembered by the town itself, as if ‘Greenock’ was fully personified, not just a collection...

A wee think about things

June 9, 2017
by Colin Waters

I’m watching a short clip on YouTube. I’ve watched it twice already before clicking on it again. It’s is twenty-one seconds long; in it, a man walks through a dreich-looking housing scheme, early morning, streets deserted, shouting, ‘She’s turned the weans against us.’ Arms extended in a...

JL Williams: Five Poems

June 9, 2017

A set of five poems from Scottish poet Jennifer Lynn Williams including 'Coney Island Blues', 'Rules of the Game' and 'Lullullaby'.

The Book Room

June 10, 2017
by Ronald Frame

The family home was to be sold after forty-nine years of Frame residency, but even to allow an estate agent and surveyor inside the house we needed a major pre-declutter. Books everywhere: tottering stacs of them. Some books, not a few, eliminated themselves from the final reckoning simply because the...

Only the Lonely

June 10, 2017
by Dani Garavelli

When traumatic memories from Eleanor Oliphant’s past lay siege to the fortress she has built around her life, she reaches behind her mattress for a copy of Jane Eyre, a book she has read so often its edges are ‘rounded and softened with years of handling’. Loneliness is often portrayed as a modern...

Who’s who?

June 9, 2017
by Alasdair McKillop

If the natural world of trees and bees starts on the edge of our towns and cities, the digital world starts at our fingertips. Meaningful access to both requires the acquisition of secret languages and a deep understanding of their codes of existence but it is harder for the innocent to fathom the furthest...

Paradise Won

June 10, 2017
by Roddy Forsyth

Even those Scots who nourish antipathy to sport in general and football in particular – a larger constituency than is generally acknowledged – usually know that, by winning the European Cup in 1967, Celtic became the first British club to acquire the trophy. The 50th anniversary of that achievement...

The Way We Are

June 10, 2017
by Pat Kane

The cover graphic of this momentous scholarly exercise is just its title, but laid out in uneven, blocky, patchy lettering, like a photocopied punk magazine – or perhaps a late-returned essay. The spine even simulates some fraying through overuse (before it has even been used). The immediate meaning...

War wounds

June 9, 2017
by Joseph Farrell

There was a phase in the development of modern theatre when, under the guidance of Gordon Craig and other innovators, the aim was to find inspiration in puppet theatre, to study and reproduce the mechanics of movement and the fixity of character of puppets. I have no reason to believe that director...

That Old Thing

June 9, 2017
by Suria Tei

It came in a snail mail, news that you were gone – ‘去了’, literally. I had only been on the small island in the north less than two years, still excited at finally having the freedom I had longed for. I had left no room in my luggage for the house three hundred miles away, and all those associated...