Reviews

Review: Transcription by Kate Atkinson

September 13, 2018
by Rachel Walker

Transcription – the latest offering from bestselling author Kate Atkinson – is a work of complete duality. For a novel that is concerned with spies and espionage, with hidden identities and masked lives, this is perhaps not entirely surprising. Spy novels, after all, abound with duality.

METRE READINGS

August 11, 2018
by Lesley McDowell

The Poem is a daunting prospect. Some 732 pages long, published in hardback, with a sombre blue cover marked only by a bright orange triangle it both confers and threatens status and importance by its appearance as much as by its sheer weight. Inside there is a preface, then three sections, before finishing...

WHAT’S UP DOC?

August 11, 2018
by Peter Ross

One bright morning this summer, in a flower-filled garden in Govan, I sat with a 50 year old man – John – as he gave an eyewitness account of hell. His mother had died. That loss, coming on top of sedimentary layers of pressure and anxiety, some of it to do with money worries, had caused a pit to...

CANVAS PIONEERS

August 11, 2018
by Susan Mansfield

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see that 1939 was not a good year to launch an art movement. But the members of the New Era Group, photographed by the Evening News in Edinburgh in June of that year, are full of optimism. Pictured holding a painting – an ambitious modern take on the Crucifixion...

HUMBOLDT’S GIFT

August 11, 2018
by Brian Morton

My grandfather had two intellectual heroes. One was Sir Humphry Davy; the other was Alexander von Humboldt. The connection was mining, and specifically the fact that both men developed improved miners’ lamps. To my grandfather, the safety of his men was a greater human good than a cure for cancer. He...

MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

August 11, 2018
by Rosemary Goring

Could there be a more frivolous title? Emblazoned in pink on the cover, Caroline’s Bikini suggests that what lies within is a high-summer romance, a story whose happy, sexy ending is assured. As with its section headings – Ready, Steady, Go! – it hints that within these pages a reader in search...

A LAW UNTO HIMSELF

August 10, 2018
by Harry McGrath

James Buchan’s biography of John Law is a thing of biblical proportions but it still comes with a bonus card inside. One side of the card has a series of short hymns to Buchan’s abilities as a writer and his facility for making difficult subjects accessible. The other has some ‘facts about John...

A MUSE’S STORY

June 2, 2018
by Susan Mansfield

In the whirlwind of Freshers’ Week at Edinburgh College of Art in 1961, Helen Percy, 18 years old and newly arrived from Golspie, attended a concert, ‘a wild, orgiastic, anarchic charade’, in which a pianist, draped in a fishing net, with a butcher’s bone on a rope around his waist, ‘thundered...

FOR PEAT’S SAKE

June 2, 2018
by Cal Flynn

In William Atkin’s The Moor, a heady brew of literary criticism, topography and nature writing, our attention was directed to that most enigmatic and evocative of landscapes. It is a stark place – clean-lined, curving, emptied of landmarks – the perfectly bleak backdrop of that classic work of...

HAPPY DAYS

June 2, 2018
by Harry Ritchie

Brexit. Trump. Putin. The Chinese. Terrorism. Fundamentalism. Et bloody cetera. You’ve got to say, the late teens of the twenty-first century do not look like a great time for the whole rational-progressive project. Endarkenment Now seems the much more accurate title for this book, given that the...