Volume 06 Issue 4

The Route To Nowhere – George Rosie

November 11, 2010

Bringing trams to Edinburgh was meant to show what a modern European city it is. Many years and millions of pounds later, the tram project makes a statement about the capital – only it’s not the one they wanted to make.   The resignation last week of David Mackay from the chairmanship of the Edinburgh...

Volume 6 – Issue 4 – Editorial

November 11, 2010

When the end-of-year ‘Best books of 2010’ polls are over, there are bound to be votes for David Shields’s Reality Hunger.In it, Shields outlines his discontent with the novel, going as far as to suggest it’s effectively finished. Or at least finished in the form most of us are familiar with,...


November 11, 2010
by Kapka Kassabova

JANUARY The Highlands are blue with snow, I’m blue with recent farewells, and I know that neither will last. Already, in the eerie chill, new things are budding: a rose outside my window, a story inside my head. I have a year to write it. But God, where do I begin? FEBRUARY How about the beginning?...

Connery – Last of the He-Men

November 11, 2010
by Katie Grant

In his younger days, Sean Connery had the physique of a Greek god. Is his appeal to men based on attitudes equally ancient? Separated at birth? Sean Connery… …and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm What is it with men and Sean Connery? That’s what I’m pondering after finishing Christopher Bray’s Sean Connery:...

Same Dog, Different Fleas

November 11, 2010
by Paul Hutcheon

Alex Salmond has made a career out of avoiding the grip of his political opponents. Does he fare any better against his biographer? The smartest guy in the room? Another day, another book by David Torrance. Putting sarcasm aside, we should welcome the fact that it is Torrance, the journalist and historian,...

Volume 6 – Issue 4 – Poetry – Elizabeth Burns

November 11, 2010
by Elizabeth Burns

ELIZABETH BURNS Elizabeth Burns has written three collections of poetry. Her first, Ophelia and other poems, was shortlisted for a Saltire Award. Her pamphlet The Shortest Days won the inaugural Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets in 2009. She lives and teaches creative writing in Lancaster.   THE...

A Broad Nature – 100 Years of Norman MacCaig

November 11, 2010
by Brian Morton

If MacCaig doesn’t come to mind at once as standing in the front rank of Scotland’s poets of the twentieth century, the obvious question is: why not? Virginia Woolf claimed that human character changed “on or about December 1910”. Norman MacCaig arrived on the cusp. He was born in Edinburgh...

A Chequered History

November 11, 2010
by Allan Massie

Is tartan a symbol of national identity – or does it represent all that is false and sentimental about Scottish culture? Does the national obsession with tartan mean something or is it, at heart, empty? About a dozen years ago my late father (born 1907) was asked if he would be wearing a kilt to...

On Being Modern-Minded

November 11, 2010
by Terry Delaney

The SRB essay winner on how the modern-minded look into the past and see only their own reflection. My youngest son, thirteen years old, regularly declares himself to be in favour of all things modern. Occasionally he catches me doing or saying something he considers uncharacteristically in tune with...

Burking The Truth

November 11, 2010
by Owen Dudley Edwards

The Burke and Hare story has been resurrected once more by Hollywood’s grave-diggers. Better to let it rest in peace. Pegg and Serkis as Burke and Hare Seldom if ever have I enjoyed as bad a film as much as John Landis’ Burke And Hare. Not all of the enjoyment came from its badness. Tom Wilkinson,...

Reading Jail

November 11, 2010
by Martin Belk

Creative writing classes offer young offenders a route back to the world. A class tutor explains how. ‘ Body farming’ – is that how society sees its prisons? Polmont Young Offenders Institution doesn’t look like a jail when you walk in. The sliding doors open automatically, like any office...


November 11, 2010
by Robert Crawford

Mick Imlah was not obviously Scottish but his homeland was deep in the grain of his personality and poetry. This will be as much a memoir as a review. I knew Mick Imlah – not well, but well enough – for twenty years. We first met when he took over from Andrew Motion as poetry editor at Chatto &...

The Art of War

November 11, 2010
by Stephen Phelan

Why there is nothing comic about a new graphic novel’s take on the shock of war and its traumatic fall-out. ACTION is a euphemism for violence, routinely used by the military to cover the experience of combat. The word also refers to a genre of movies defined by gunfights and explosions, and it recurs...

A Capital Fellow

November 11, 2010
by Michael Fry

Siegmund Warburg turned the City upside down, yet his achievements, as well as his brand of gentlemanly capitalism, are all but extinct. Niall Ferguson started his rise to stardom as an economic, more specifically a financial, historian – which is perhaps, with all the jargon and numbers, not an especially...

Volume 6 – Issue 4 – Gallimaufry

November 11, 2010
by Theresa Munoz

THE COMPLETE BRIGADIER GERARD STORIES Arthur Conan Doyle CANONGATE £8.99 400PP ISBN 978-1847679192 Besides Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle produced another, rather less well-known, recurring character: the young French cavalry officer Brigadier Gerard of the Hussars, ready to serve Napoleon and France...

Queequeg 7

November 11, 2010