We have reached that point in the calendar when the book trade is at its most buoyant. Over the coming month or so more books will be bought than in the rest of the year put together. Or so the theory goes. Booksellers, publishers and authors all look to Christmas and the shopping frenzy it encourages...
The singer-songwriter Kenny Anderson records his beguiling songs under the moniker King Creosote. The name captures the tone of his albums, which blend the ordinary and down-to-earth with the ethereal.
Edinburgh was once the Athens of the North, and while it is purely fanciful to imagine that David Greig was out to breathe new life into the old, noble designation of the city when he inaugurated his tenure as artistic director of the Lyceum with a version of The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus, it is...
When Autumn was published last month, just as the leaves were turning russet and gold to match the book’s binding, Ali Smith wrote an article in the Guardian about the marvellous, neglected Pop artist Pauline Boty.
I’M heading north to Orkney, where I’m scheduled to take part in this year’s science festival. As the Hamnavoe ferry approaches Stromness I stand outside on the deck, so I can watch as it changes direction to line up with two red navigation lights on the town’s Hellihole road.
'Much of the Village,’ wrote New York Times critic, Robert Shelton, of the emergence in September, 1961, of Bob Dylan, ‘reacted with jealousy, contempt and ridicule.’
In December 2014, eight months before his death at the age of 93, Brian Stewart sat for the artist Paul Benney. The painting had been commissioned by Prince Charles as part of a series of portraits of D-Day veterans.
Forty years ago Hugh MacDiarmid, poet and provocateur, was interviewed by pupils of Hillhead High School, the result of which was published in their school magazine.
In Edinburgh of yore, many moons before it was dubbed a ‘city of literature’, it was a common occurrence in one of its many frowsty watering-holes to encounter late of an evening the editor of a literary magazine hawking her latest issue to dour drinkers clinging mollusc-like to the bar.
On the 4th of May 1987, a 78-feet straw locomotive was driven on a low-loader, diesel hauler from the former Springburn Locomotive works in Glasgow, the way locomotives had been since the 1940s, and hung from the 174-feet high Finnieston Crane over the Clyde where it swayed in the air for weeks.
This is the quarter century he didn’t expect, and didn’t particularly want. Samuel Beckett passed his 60th birthday on April 13 1966 with his glass half-empty and the cup of fame brimming over. Writing letters was both a distraction from work and a hedge against fading powers.
In 1965, accompanied by his formidable permanent secretary, Evelyn Sharp, Richard Crossman, the then housing minister, visited the emerging new town of Cumbernauld. In his diary, the Cotswold-dwelling Labour left winger waxed ecstatic.
Shortly before the second general election of 1974, the late John P. Mackintosh attempted to explain the rise of the Scottish National Party to a predominantly left-wing English audience in an essay for the New Statesman.
It was the opinion of an eminent Scotsman of the times that Lady Anne Barnard was ‘the best specimen Scotland ever sent to London’. This was no small compliment, the roads south clogged with ambitious and talented Scots keen to get ahead by leaving home.
Islands fascinate us. Skye, for many, was indefinably devalued when at last, two decades ago, linked to the mainland by bridge. Many of our islands, once inhabited, are today deserted and forlorn. Scarp and Taransay, for example, off the coast of Harris, supported families into the 1970s.
Despite failing to win this year’s Man Booker Prize, Graeme Macrae Burnet won what you might call won the popular vote, dominating media coverage before the actual winner was revealed as The Sellout by Paul Beatty.
You can assume that the ambiguity in the title of this dense, lyrical and thrillingly intelligent book has been carefully mused over. I should disclose immediately that I’m in the end credits, along with some other usual suspects, as an early adviser.
20 October, Edinburgh: Today I will fly to Frankfurt, location of the world’s greatest book fair, with my publisher Jean Findlay of Scotland Street Press. I’m being brought along to hustle my book – 9 Months in Tibet – as I’ve proven to be a good hustler over the last three months.