Volume 12 Issue 4

Volume 12 Issue 4 Editorial

August 11, 2017

Publishing is a precarious business, not least because significant capital must first be spent before any of it starts to trickle back. Every book is a gamble and few are the ones that turn into gold. Yet publishers are often portrayed not as philanthropists or bulwarks against philistinism but as chancers...

The SRB Interview: Louise Welsh

August 11, 2017

Louise Welsh specialises in producing novels that cast the mind into a state of unease. Her first book, The Cutting Room, was published in 2002. It is the story of an auctioneer called Rilke who discovers a set of grisly photographs of a murdered woman.

SRB DIARY: A Hoot on Skye

August 11, 2017
by Peter Ross

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is upon us, and with it the opportunity to spend a few moments in the company of writers famous and obscure. Having been on both sides of the pen, as both author and punter, I am fascinated by the etiquette of the signing queue. How long can one hog the writer...

Jackie Kay Five Poems

August 11, 2017
by Jackie Kay

UNPOLISHED 90 CM ROBERT BURNS REPLICA Yes, wee Rabbie, sma’, modest, Unpolished, no pretentious; Precious, yet no precious In smairt but casual dress. Yes, Rabbie, saft and hard, Ploughman and Bard, A boy afore the man on guard, Afore life dealt its odd cards. Yin hand clutches a poem; The ither a...

A Long Weekend In Amsterdam

August 11, 2017
by Ronald Frame

Perhaps you can judge a book by its cover. In this case black-and-white with just a little blue on the front. The lettering for the title and author is unadorned caps. A couple in late middle age, both in overcoats and hats and the woman holding an umbrella against the sleet (the man stands a step or...


August 11, 2017
by Colin Waters

In the fifth volume of his My Struggle series, on the last page, Karl Ove Knausgaard describes what he did immediately after a final, shattering meeting with his first wife before sepa rating: ‘I was on the night train to Oslo, everything I did on the journey was to avoid thinking.

Who’d Be a Man?

August 11, 2017
by Zoë Strachan

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, sang Tammy Wynette. I’d like to think that her lyrics reach their emotional apotheosis when delivered at West of Scotland karaoke nights. That is not meant as an ironic statement, nor do I suspect is it a phenomenon strictly limited to the West of Scotland, simply...


August 12, 2017

The sights which met Robert Louis Stevenson when the yacht Casco landed at Nukahiva in the Marquesas inspired one of the most delicate, lyrical passages which even he ever penned. ‘The first experience can never be repeated. The first love, the first sunrise, the first South Sea island, are memories...

Back In The USSR

August 12, 2017
by David Robinson

Back in the days when newspapers had money and could afford foreign correspondents, it was often felt that the best thing to do with these aristocrats of the trade was to shift them around every few years. That way, it was felt, they wouldn’t ‘go native’. As Angus Roxburgh makes clear in Moscow...


August 13, 2017
by Brian Morton

A sensitive priest will reassure you that seeming distractions – all the unbidden sensations, anxieties, stray and sometimes unworthy thoughts that crowd in as soon as you bend a knee – are actually part of prayer, or should be made so. Poetry is like that as well. In its idealised form, it should...

Another Time, Another Place

August 11, 2017
by Rosemary Goring

Asked to describe her upbringing, in an interview in later life, Jessie Kesson spoke of her ‘accidental’ birth in Inverness Workhouse. Her mother was not married, which was disgrace enough in 1916, and no doubt to escape the local gossips she had hightailed it to the city. As a result, her child,...


August 12, 2017
by Harry McGrath

No country has been described in terms of another to the extent that Canada was by Scotland. From the Dunbar area of Vancouver to Inverness in Nova Scotia, Scots festooned Canada with familiar toponyms. One relatively small corner of southern Alberta, for instance, has a Calgary, a Banff, a Canmore...

Edinburgh’s Endarkenment

August 12, 2017
by David Black

Two celebrations were wrapped up as one in the recent exhibition of Hugh Buchanan’s watercolours of Georgian Edinburgh in the Scottish Gallery. The New Town was born 250 years ago, its birth certificate being the ground plan by 28-year-old James Craig, nephew of Augustan poet James Thomson.

Farewell to Tibbie’s

August 13, 2017
by Alan Taylor

Tibbie Shiel Inn stands on an isthmus between St Mary’s Loch and the much smaller Loch of the Lowes in what was once a densely-forested part of the Scottish border country. These days almost all of the trees have disappeared, long since supplanted by sheep who spend much of their brief lives munching...