Volume 02 Issue 2

The SRB Interview: Alistair MacLeod

October 28, 2009

ALISTAIR MACLEOD WAS BORN in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1936 and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where the Scottish ancestors, who inform so much of his work, landed centuries before. To finance his further education, MacLeod worked as a logger, miner and fisherman, all jobs he would...

Volume 2 – Issue 2 – Editorial

October 28, 2009

THE FATALITY RATE among literary magazines is alarmingly high. Like Burns’s snowdrops too many of them are here one minute and recycled waste paper the next – “a moment white then gone forever”. We sincerely hope this will not be the case with the Scottish Review of Books which first stuck...


October 28, 2009
by Benjamin Morris

The Subterranean Homesick Blues Monday, April 10, 9.15am I’ve taken the scenic route to New Orleans, driving south to Gulfport and then west through the once-anonymous, now infamous communities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland. The drive is like the opening few notes of a symphony yet to come: nearer...

In Search of Scottish Architecture

October 28, 2009
by Alain De Botton

FOR MUCH OF THE twentieth century, leading modern architects thought it absurd to try to endow a building with a national identity. They had no desire to create works which would be recognisably ‘Mexican’, ‘Swiss’ or ‘Scottish’. They aspired to what became known as the ‘international style’,...

Lost In A Haunted Wood

October 28, 2009
by Richard Holloway

WHATEVER YOU YOURSELF make of religion, you have to admit that religious anxiety has prompted some great fiction. But before moving on, I probably ought to bring the modifier on the last word in my previous sentence to your attention: I am referring to great fiction, and I am suggesting that religious...

Kidnapped: A Capital Novel

October 28, 2009
by Jennie Calder

I began it partly as a lark, partly as a potboiler; and suddenly it moved, David and Alan stepped out from the canvas, and I was in another world.” Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this in a letter to the critic T Watts-Dunton, who had reviewed Kidnapped in an August 1886 issue of the Athenaeum. Stevenson’s...

Whither Stovies?

October 28, 2009
by Brian Morton

LE SUPERFLU, CHOSE TRES NECESAIRE” says the original Voltaire, not in warning that some avian epidemic is inevitable, but suggesting more gently that excess, superfluity, trimmings are somehow essential to life. The best parts of Jack McLean’s The Compendium of Nosh have, to be honest, not much...

Seven Poems

October 28, 2009
by Vicki Feaver

The Sacrifice (after the drawing ‘Two Girls with Billowing Robes and a Bull’ by Pietro Testa) We brought him up from a calf. We feed him milk from a silver bowl; brush his hide until it shines like moon. Then, we set off; the bull running between us, restrained only by the mesmerizing swirl of our...

Outgrowing Oban

October 28, 2009
by S. B. Kelly

REVIEWING A BOOK is a very different experience from simply reading one and then committing your thoughts to paper. For a start, there’s the press release: a more or less subtle attempt to suggest the kinds of adjectives the publisher would like to see reiterated in print. In this case, it opens with...

Breaking the Silence

October 28, 2009
by Ian Bell

GEORGE MACKAY BROWN was a writer who had no choice in the matter. He was unfit, in most of the usual meanings of the word, for any other work. Illness mapped him out to begin with, an island within an island, but his incapacity was more than physical. Nor was it always unwelcome. Sick or well, Mackay...

What Ever – A short story

October 28, 2009
by Jackie Kay

THE PEOPLE at the farmhouse on the top of the hill in Ballantrae have invited Ina McEwen and her family for dinner. They walk from the Hut, a wooden holiday hut lent to them by good comrades, the Haldanes. It is one of those huts with the old gas lights, tiny nets fluttering over the light. Tell Ina...

Learning to Love Sir Walter

October 28, 2009
by James Robertson

I CANNOT BE THE FIRST President of the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club to use the opportunity of the annual dinner to call for a revival of interest in Sir Walter Scott and his fiction. Any such call inevitably begs the question, why should anyone, in Scotland or further afield, be interested in Scott...

Volume 2 – Issue 2 – Gallimaufry

October 28, 2009
by Lesley McDowell

The Quest For Charles Rennie Mackintosh John Cairney LUATH PRESS, £8.99 pp302 ISBN 1905222432 The Quest For Charles Rennie Mackintosh purports to be the first biography of Mackintosh the man rather than Mackintosh the architect or watercolourist or maker of smart if shoogly furniture. Cairney buffs...