Volume 01 Issue 4

The SRB Interview: William Boyd

October 28, 2009

 “IF SOMEONE ASKS ME what nationality I am, I unhesitatingly say I’m Scottish,” William Boyd recently told Colin Waters for the Scottish Review of Books. The very fact he had to make this explicit speaks volumes about his relationship with Scotland and Scottish literature. The son of expatriates,...

Volume 1 – Issue 4 – Editorial

October 28, 2009

GARRISON Keillor, the droll Minnesotan raconteur, once wrote a story called ‘Jack Schmidt, Arts Administrator’. Schmidt’s job is to administer a plethora of arts organisations, his principle task being to find funding. By his own account he is phenomenally inventive and successful. “I got the...

DIARY

October 28, 2009
by Alex Massie

The Diary of a Chicken Hawk I DID NOT NEED to make a return trip to Scotland recently to be aware of just how unpopular George W Bush is these days. Not that he was ever a pin-up boy for many Scots in the first place of course. Still, the casual assumption that the President is incompetent at best and...

Getting to the Bottom of Beckett

October 28, 2009
by John Calder

THERE ARE MANY Samuel Becketts, because he was a complex man who moved in so many circles that barely touched each other, and they all saw him differently. There is the Beckett described by his various biographers, all slightly different, who chronicle his life but give him different motivations and...

Mac Exodus

October 28, 2009
by T. M. Devine

IN 1909, A CONTEMPORARY statistician, G.T. Bisset, remarked, “The Scots are a notoriously migratory people.” The statement if anything understated the legendary scale of Scottish international mobility. From at least medieval times the Scottish diaspora was an intrinsic and vital part of the national...

Of Interest Only to Perverts? Scottish Poetry Today

October 28, 2009
by S. B. Kelly

MARK VAN STAATEN, the Dutch cartoonist, has a lovely image in his little book This Literary Life. An avuncular figure comforts a distraught and dishevelled novelist, with the caption “But six hundred copies is a succès d’estime”. For many a poet, six hundred copies is the equivalent of a Da Vinci...

Lost Leaders

October 28, 2009
by Paul Hutcheon

IN A TAXI EARLIER this year in Edinburgh, the driver quizzed me on what my big story was for the following day. After explaining that I was not on duty, I said that the Sunday papers would be focussed on the untimely death of Robin Cook and the space left by the former MP. Turning round, and with a...

Genius, bile and bravery – a tale of three halves

October 28, 2009
by Hugh MacDonald

THE WRITING OF THE FOOTBALL memoir is a game of three halves. Each reminiscence falls into one of the triple-play categories: former player’s memoir, the outsider/fan’s take or the personal memory/state of the nation address by media commentator. In Scotland, however, they tend to share a distinguishing...

Living History

October 28, 2009
by Rosemary Goring

BROUGHT UP IN DUNBAR, not far from the hill where Cromwell took terrible command over the Scots, I was nursed into adulthood on a diet of history, on tales of battles, riots, persecutions, as well as the less sensational business of ordinary lowland people, whose drove roads over the Lammermuirs were...

Devils, Witches, Giants, Talking Horses

October 28, 2009
by James Robertson

THERE IS NEVER A SINGLE, orthodox version of a myth,” Karen Armstrong writes in A Short History of Myth. “As our circumstances change, we need to tell our stories differently in order to bring out their timeless truth.” As human beings have moved through different stages of social development,...

Photo-op university

October 28, 2009
by T. C. Smout

WHAT GOOD IS St Andrews? The question was put by one of the hatchet ladies of radio, as I recall in a programme about why Prince William wanted to go there. She plainly thought of us as a bunch of red-flannelled fools, professors in their dotage and students in their bloatage: how would this ivory-tower...

Bleeding Wallace

October 28, 2009
by Colin McArthur

IN THE ARMY in the 1950s there was one Scot, call him Hayward, who made the rest of us cringe with embarrassment. Jostled in the cookhouse queue, he rounded on the hapless Cockney offender with “Watch it, pal, it’s a Scotsman you’re dealing with now.” Imagining what became of Hayward in the...

Queerer and Queerer

October 28, 2009
by Alan MacGilivray

IN 1817 THE YOUNG Scottish advocate, Thomas Erskine, in later life to become Lord Erskine and British Chancellor of the Exchequer, published a speculative utopian fiction, Armata, in which a ship sailing from New York to China is driven by storms into unknown waters and finds itself traversing a narrow...

Blue Suede Brogues

October 28, 2009
by Brian Morton

THAT FINE SINGER Carol Laula tells the story of going into the Alamo, a famous clothes store in Nashville, and seeing poster portraits of two country music icons in pride of place on the wall behind the till. On the right, born in Tupelo, Mississippi, the up-and-coming Elvis Presley; on the left, born...

Volume 1 – Issue 4 – Gallimaufry

October 28, 2009
by Lesley McDowell

Dick Donovan the Glasgow Detective J E Preston Muddock, edited and introduced by Bruce Durie MERCAT PRESS, £9.99 pp.192 ISBN: 1841830887 One almost wishes this short story collection by the “other” Conan Doyle was in fact a spoof devised and elaborated by Durie, “the foremost world authority...