Volume 05 Issue 4

The SRB Interview: Hilary Mantel

November 10, 2009

Hilary Mantel was born in Derbyshire, in 1952, growing up in a mill town, Hadfield, largely populated by Irish textile workers and their descendants. Mantel’s own grandparents were Irish. She was educated first at a local Roman Catholic primary school, later, a convent in Romiley, Cheshire. In...

Volume 5 – Issue 4 – Editorial

November 10, 2009

WITH this, its twentieth issue, the Scottish Review of Books takes its first tentative steps in cyberspace. As of now we have a website – scottishreviewofbooks.org – which you may visit at your leisure and on whose contents you may comment as you see fit. While not quite in the one giant leap forward...

SRB Diary: Of Literature and Love Handles

November 10, 2009
by Rosemary Goring

IN THE COURSE of desultory conversation with a novelist on the duckboards of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, I realised how anxious the Scottish literary community has grown of late. The novelist said something mildly critical about one of the twenty-odd organisations that cover literature...

Where Leith and Baltimore Meet

November 10, 2009
by John Linklater

I WAS BACK IN Baltimore to look up some old friends. We were sitting in a bar and The Rafeman told me he’d just seen the recently released Trainspotting movie. He commented that he’d no idea that Scotland was so crazy and junked up. He was impressed. When I first met Rafael Alvarez eight years earlier...

Old and New Makars

November 10, 2009
by WN Herbert

THIS RE-PRESENTATION of a late medieval Scottish maister Robert Henryson both delights and compels us, particularly as Scottish readers, to a reappraisal of our relationship with what we think of as a literature of our distant past. Sea-mus Heaney has achieved two things: he has brought back to a broad...


November 10, 2009
by Dominic McCafferty

The heavily-browed face of Charles Darwin has this year at least become as familiar as one’s own features. Many TV programmes and books, and now a feature film, have given Darwin as high a profile as at any time since his death in 1882. The coincidence in 2009 of the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth...

Bob the Builder

November 10, 2009
by Candia McWilliam

SOME WEEKS AGO there emerged a life of James Lees-Milne, diarist and saviour of many buildings in the early days of the National Trust. In it, his own account of his conversion to the cause of rescuing imperilled buildings is questioned by his biographer, Michael Bloch; Lees-Milne says it came when...

A Half-Wit Hero

November 10, 2009
by Allan Massie

It is almost thirty years since William Boyd published A Good Man in Africa. An immediate success, it won the Whitbread prize for the best first novel and the Somerset Maugham Award. Boyd had already caught one’s attention with elegant stories published in London Magazine, and his second novel,...

Queequeg…No 3

November 10, 2009

Volume 5 Issue 4

New Poems – Robin Robertson

November 10, 2009
by Robin Robertson

Cat, Failing A figment, a thumbed maquette of a cat, some ditched plaything, something brought in from outside: his white fur stiff and grey, coming apart at the seams. I study the muzzle of perished rubber, one ear eaten away, his sour body lumped like a bean-bag leaking thinly into a grim towel. I...

Munro’s Peaks

November 10, 2009
by Kenny Hodgart

IN THE EIGHT or so decades since his death, few have hastened to call Neil Munro a “fashionable” writer. Besides his misfortune to be bundled in with his “kailyard” contemporaries by too many wrong-headed critics, he specialised in a kind of genre fiction – serious, involved historical novels...

Before Fred the Shred

November 10, 2009
by James Buchan

IN A YEAR when the Scottish banks have managed to mislay the accumulated capital of three centuries, and been saved by the public, it is pleasant to read of Scottish financiers who knew what they were doing. In this interesting if somewhat rough-hewn book, Liza Giffen, tells the story of the rise of...

Volume 5 – Issue 4 – Gallimaufry

November 10, 2009
by Theresa Munoz

iPistoleros! 1:1989: The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg Farquhar McHarg CHRISTIE BOOKS, £12.95 pp264, ISBN 9781873976371 A few years ago, Margaret Forster published diaries she found, which were written by a woman who lived from 1901 to 1995. Only she didn’t find them: Forster made up the diaries....