Volume 13 Issue 3

SRB DIARY: IN SEARCH OF GERMAN ANCESTRY

August 11, 2018

Before I travelled to southern Germany earlier this year for a writing residency I was under the happy illusion that I was a half-decent hill walker, but here I am staying in Dilsberg, a tiny village perched on a hill so steep that I repeatedly have to lure myself up with promises of coffee and cake...

Editorial

August 11, 2018

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the last reading Charles Dickens gave in Edinburgh. On 26 February, 1869, the most fêted English writer of his generation appeared at the music hall in George Street. It was a homecoming of sorts. Dickens was no stranger to the Scottish capital; it was where...

GET A LIFE

August 11, 2018
by Alan Taylor

WATCHING England suffocate stuporous Sweden in the quarter finals of this year’s World Cup my contempt for jingoistic pundits reached a new level when one former footballer remarked that anyone who was not engrossed in the stultifying spectacle unfolding on the screen but was instead reading a book...

THE SRB INTERVIEW: Kamila Shamsie

August 11, 2018
by Nick Major

Kamila Shamsie was born in Karachi in 1973. She comes from a family of intellectuals. Her mother, Muneeza Shamsie, is a celebrated academic and journalist who has published anthologies on Pakistani writing in the English Language. Her great aunt was the writer Attia Husain, and her grandfather studied...

WHAT’S UP DOC?

August 11, 2018
by Peter Ross

One bright morning this summer, in a flower-filled garden in Govan, I sat with a 50 year old man – John – as he gave an eyewitness account of hell. His mother had died. That loss, coming on top of sedimentary layers of pressure and anxiety, some of it to do with money worries, had caused a pit to...

POET AT WAR

August 11, 2018
by Tom Pow

The naturalist and journalist, Michael McCarthy, comments in his book The Moth Snowstorm – Nature and Joy, on the luck of coming from a ‘special place’; as lucky, he thinks, as coming from a happy family. McCarthy’s ‘special place’ was the marshland of the Wirral; Alastair Reid’s was Galloway,...

SIX EARLY POEMS

August 11, 2018
by Alastair Reid

THE NEW WAY There was not much trouble in that goodbye —in the saying of it, I mean. But the way was that untrodden one, that lay over the thick of the older wood, and not very often had I gone there, but mostly by one where the grass was bare and footpath clearer, with sometimes the eye of a cottage...

MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

August 11, 2018
by Rosemary Goring

Could there be a more frivolous title? Emblazoned in pink on the cover, Caroline’s Bikini suggests that what lies within is a high-summer romance, a story whose happy, sexy ending is assured. As with its section headings – Ready, Steady, Go! – it hints that within these pages a reader in search...

CANVAS PIONEERS

August 11, 2018
by Susan Mansfield

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see that 1939 was not a good year to launch an art movement. But the members of the New Era Group, photographed by the Evening News in Edinburgh in June of that year, are full of optimism. Pictured holding a painting – an ambitious modern take on the Crucifixion...

SRB AT THE THEATRE: THÉÂTRE DES BOUFFES DU NORD

August 11, 2018
by Joseph Farrell

One of the most keenly awaited items on the Edinburgh International Festival programme is the ‘residency’ of the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, where the ‘north’ in question is a banlieue in Paris which has now a high immigrant population. The suburbs colloquially designated banlieue rather...

A LAW UNTO HIMSELF

August 10, 2018
by Harry McGrath

James Buchan’s biography of John Law is a thing of biblical proportions but it still comes with a bonus card inside. One side of the card has a series of short hymns to Buchan’s abilities as a writer and his facility for making difficult subjects accessible. The other has some ‘facts about John...

METRE READINGS

August 11, 2018
by Lesley McDowell

The Poem is a daunting prospect. Some 732 pages long, published in hardback, with a sombre blue cover marked only by a bright orange triangle it both confers and threatens status and importance by its appearance as much as by its sheer weight. Inside there is a preface, then three sections, before finishing...

HUMBOLDT’S GIFT

August 11, 2018
by Brian Morton

My grandfather had two intellectual heroes. One was Sir Humphry Davy; the other was Alexander von Humboldt. The connection was mining, and specifically the fact that both men developed improved miners’ lamps. To my grandfather, the safety of his men was a greater human good than a cure for cancer. He...

OWN GOALS

August 11, 2018
by Roddy Forsyth

He is not a theatrical knight but for services rendered to entertainment in Scotland Archie Macpherson can surely be granted the tinselled status of national treasure. So embedded is he in the culture that mention of his name almost invariably prompts colloquial references, like cries of ‘Woof!’,...