Volume 11 Issue 2

The SRB Interview: Alexander McCall Smith

November 3, 2015

Alexander McCall Smith’s fingers must move faster than Alfred Brendel’s. Among the most productive and successful writers at work today, he has published in the region of 80 books (excluding academic works), among them The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (16 titles), which has sold more than...

Volume 11 Issue 2 – Editorial

August 14, 2015

EARLIER this year Creative Scotland published a report on the state of literature in Scotland. Titled Literature and Publishing Sector Review, it included a raft of recommendations. Of particular interest to the Scottish Review of Books was the section dealing with reviewing and criticism where it was...

SRB Diary: Europe’s Last Border

November 3, 2015
by Kapka Kassabova

Along an old drove road in the forest between Bulgaria and Turkey, there is a drinking fountain locals call Kreynero. It’s a distortion of the original Greek, kryo nero, cold water. The stone still bears a faint Soviet star that someone carved in 1971 when the Cold War was never going to end. The...

SRB at the Theatre

November 3, 2015
by Joseph Farrell

What Goes Around went around Scotland in autumn in a touring production by Cumbernauld Theatre Company. The NTS has done sterling work in taking theatre to theatre-starved parts of the country, but somehow this particular work brought back memories of the good old days when several companies, Wildcat,...

Collecting Mania

November 3, 2015
by Alan Taylor

TEN years ago, by way of a leaving present from his post as Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, Sir Timothy Clifford commissioned from himself a book which formed the basis of a remarkable exhibition. Choice, sub-titled ‘Twenty-One Years of Collecting for Scotland’, was an unashamed...

Who will be the next U.S. President?

November 3, 2015
by Jamie Maxwell

NO post-war US president, including John F. Kennedy, holds a tighter grip of America’s political imagination than Ronald Reagan. Republicans and Democrats agree that Reagan’s presidency was ‘transformative’. For Republicans, Reagan rescued the country from decline after the disaster of Vietnam...

Silver Darlings

November 3, 2015
by John MacLeod

IT was hard in the 1970s, even as a Glasgow Highland boy, to get away from herring. A vast salted bucket of the beasts sat in the back porch. Each Saturday they were boiled for noonday dinner, regardless of our protests, served up with steaming potatoes. We could only endure them with lashings of tomato...

Militant Tendency

November 3, 2015
by Nick Major

THE plot of Ajay Close’s 2014 novel Trust turns on two modern political crises: the miners strikes of the early 1980s and the financial crash of the late noughties. The characters who garner sympathy struggle to maintain moral steadfastness in the face of an unjust political situation. There are the...

Inside Project Fear

November 3, 2015
by Alasdair McKillop

WHEN Henry McLeish questions the clarity of your position on the constitutional question you are probably in trouble. The former First Minister was responding to the suggestion made by Kezia Dugdale, the recently elected leader of Scottish Labour, that MPs and MSPs would be free to campaign for independence...

What Did Oil Do For Us?

November 3, 2015
by Jonathan Wills

FEELING sorry for the oil companies is something I normally leave to Chancellors of the Exchequer but, after devouring Mike Shepherd’s highly entertaining and informative new book about the past 45 tumultuous years in the North Sea, I think I have a better idea of how Gordon Brown and George Osborne...

The Many Lives of Guy Burgess

November 3, 2015
by Ian Mitchell

AFTER Guy Burgess, the celebrated ‘Third Man’ in the Cambridge spy ring of the 1930s and ’40s, had fled to Moscow, he said, ‘My life ended when I left London.’ He lived the remainder of his life out of context, in a land where politics was supposed to be about policies not personalities. ‘The...

Best of Times, Worst of Times

November 3, 2015
by Brian Morton

HERE is our story, not as the proud unfolding of an inexorable national logic, nor in the Eeyorish tones of a people that ‘always’ manages to give away a dodgy penalty in the last minute, but far more interestingly as a ‘recurring sequence of uncertainties’. Alistair Moffat ends his tight, brisk...

Free at last!

November 3, 2015
by Christopher Harvie

I started writing my one-and-only novel Dalriada during the third ‘Chamber’ reading of the Housing Tenures (Scotland) act on my second-last day as an MSP at Holyrood, February 2011. Fergus Ewing was on his legs. Clause after clause of a sort that made Anthony Trollope’s Potted Peas Committee...

On Camusfeàrna

November 3, 2015
by Peter Ross

IN 1987, at the age of 18, Dan Boothby made his second visit – pilgrimage, really – to Sandaig in Wester Ross, the former home of the writer and naturalist Gavin Maxwell, who had referred to it in his books as Camusfeàrna. Here Maxwell had lived with his otters – Mij and Edal – and wrote about...