Hammer of the Scots

October 19, 2009
by Karl Miller

ONE WAY OF discovering whether or not you love your native country, in my case Scotland, is to read a book by a writer you admire which runs the country down. I am an Anglo-Scot who has spent most of his working life in Lon-don, and much of it writing about Scottish literature; and I am largely an enemy...


October 15, 2009

The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle. Russell Millar HARVILL SECKER, £20.00 pp516, ISBN Reviewer: ALLAN MASSIE There is an old publishing belief that there is always a market for books on Mary, Queen of Scots, Napoleon and Churchill. Judging by the number of biographers he has attracted, Conan Doyle...

Edwin Muir’s Ecosystem of Sounds

October 15, 2009
by Robert Crawford

RHYME IS A retrospective pleasure. It’s true that in poetry we can come to anticipate rhyme-words, listening for them as they approach, but when they arrive they always confirm something that has gone before. However partial, innovative or glancing, they are essentially echoic. If the word ‘echo’...


October 15, 2009
by Theresa Munoz

17 Bill Drummond BEAUTIFUL BOOKS, £12.99 pp410, ISBN 9781905636266 “Imagine waking up tomorrow, all music had disappeared. All musical instruments, all forms of recorded music, gone”. This musical Year Zero reverie is Drum-mond’s starting point in 17, a scrambled memoir-come-manifesto. His solution...

All Academic

October 15, 2009
by Ian Bell

IT TOOK ME a long time to understand that I was employed in something – some things? – called the media. A journalist in the original sense of the word – paper, ink, writing, reading, fact and opinion – winces at the unlovely plural, far less the politicians’ ignorant conviction that one medium...

Amazing Gray

October 15, 2009
by Paul Henderson Scott

ALASDAIR GRAY IS an extraordinary man, both in his strong points and in his weaknesses. It is rare for anyone to have great ability both in writing and in the visual arts. He has read widely and he seems to have retained most of it in his memory. As Joe Murray, the type-setter who worked on the design-intensive...

World’s End Murders

October 15, 2009
by Frederic Lindsay

IN OCTOBER 1977, two girls were abducted and murdered. They had vanished after an evening in The World’s End, a tourist pub on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. The next day the violated bodies of the girls were found, Christine Eadie on a beach in East Lothian and her friend Helen Scott on farmland a...

Cow Bhoys and Indians

October 15, 2009
by Owen Dudley Edwards

ANAETHER history book, Colin? Aye, well, some of it’ll be true, and some of it’ll nae”. This is the first page, and the best in his book. (And in all fairness, it may well be the best first sentence any history book could have, and it is the best sentence in this review). The speaker was Professor...

Bohemian Rhapsody

October 15, 2009
by Lesley McDowell

I CHOSE THIS PLACE to live, believing that I would find anonymity among those who did not care if the plaster and glass and paintwork of rented houses splintered and decayed, who were not reproached by gardens gone to seed and rotting sofas…”. So says the narrator at the beginning of Shena...

Volume 5 – Issue 3 – Reviews

October 14, 2009

Death Of A Ladies’ Man Alan Bissett HACHETTE SCOTLAND, £12.99 pp432, ISBN 9780755319404 Reviewer: SEAN BELL As if Leonard Cohen hadn’t been ripped off enough. First his manager, now the Falkirk Personality of the Year. With his third novel, Alan Bissett pinches his title from Canada’s greatest...