Books

Books

Interview: Katy Lockwood-Holmes, head of Scottish publisher of the year Floris Books

With about 100 titles in the Kelpies range of tots-to-teens novels in print, Katy Lockwood-Holmes is hard-pressed to name a favourite. The head of publisher Floris Books says singling out a particular one is like selecting a preferred child. “We love them all in different ways,” she says.

Business
Sigmund Freud leaves Victoria Station after his arrival in London 06 June 1938. PIC:  AFP/Getty Images)

Book review: Freud - In His Time And Ours, by Élisabeth Roudinesco

Biographers of Freud face a very specific set of challenges. It is not just that he has been both valorised and demonised – one could easily say the same about Picasso, Schönberg or DH Lawrence. The stumbling-block lies in Freud’s own achievements. Setting aside the veracity and verifiability of his theories of libido, transference, the subconscious and suchlike, to what extent should they apply to their creator? Even if one were to discount the mental architecture he described, what do the theories tell us about the theorist? Élisabeth Roudinesco negotiates this minefield with considerable grace and formidable intelligence. This is a book which eschews simple answers and is thus a significant milestone in our understanding of Freud.

Books
The Edinburgh skyline as seen from Calton Hill  PIC: Steven Scott Taylor

Book review: Umbrellas of Edinburgh, eds. Russell Jones and Claire Askew

Alexander McCall Smith has famously described Edinburgh as “a city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” That quote was carved into the walls of the new Atria office building near the EICC in 2013, and I usually allow myself a wry smile whenever I walk past it, the building in question being an edifice unlikely to break anybody’s heart with its beauty either now or at any point in the future. Still, McCall Smith’s words certainly apply to the city in general, if not that particular corner of it; in spite of some recent architectural misadventures, Edinburgh remains a beautiful place, and – to judge by the writing in Umbrellas Of Edinburgh – its beauty does indeed seem to have a melancholy quality.

Books
Author Alexander McCall Smith. Picture: Jon Savage

Alexander McCall Smith supports book project for children

SCOTS author Alexander McCall Smith, famous for The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, has given his support to an initiative to provide books for disadvantaged children at Christmas.

News
Clio Gray

Book review: The Legacy of the Lynx, by Clio Gray

The Academy of the Lynx (actually Lynxes) – Accademia dei Lincei – was an early scientific society, founded in Rome in 1603 by Federico Cesi, son of an Italian Duke; Galileo was an early member. (The name was chosen because the lynx is sharp-eyed.) So in making a search for the lost Library of the Lynx the occasion of her novel, Clio Gray is not dealing in a Da Vinci Code sort of fantasy or historical nonsense. The library of the Lynx has been dispersed and now, at the end of the 18th century, Golo Eck – a descendant of one of the first academicians – is trying to recover it. This is a nice starting point for a Romance or quest novel, and Gray writes with bravura, invention and a wild imagination.

Books
The letter penned by Fanny Stevenson the day after the author passed away.

Letter describing RL Stevenson's final hours secured for nation

A moving letter describing the final hours of Robert Louis Stevenson has been secured for the nation.
Lifestyle 1
Detail from Laperyrouse-Wall by Peter Doig

Book review: Morning, Paramin by Derek Walcott and Peter Doig

As The Scotsman’s art critic Duncan Macmillan has pointed out, paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations are all forms of visual communication, and if a work of art requires a lengthy text hanging alongside it in a gallery, explaining what it is supposed to make us think and feel, then we should perhaps treat it with a degree of scepticism, and wonder what, if anything, it has to tell us on its own terms.

Books
Christopher Whatley

Book review: Immortal Memory, by Christopher Whatley

Very few people have read Poems, Chiefly In The Scottish Dialect of 1815, although the title may be familiar. It was written by one James Ruickbie, a miller, toll-booth keeper and eventually landlord of the Harrow Inn in Hawick. He was part of a national phenomenon, as more and more people from non-aristocratic and non-bourgeois backgrounds took heart from the fame of the “heav’n-taught ploughman” to venture into verse. Christopher Whatley’s Immortal Memory is subtitled “Burns and the Scottish People” and provides an invaluable and subtle guide to the posthumous life of Burns.

Books
Defiance

Book review: Defiance - The Life and Choices of Lady Anne Barnard, by Stephen Taylor

The title of this biography of a woman at the heart of Georgian society hints at the source of its fascination. The choices she made, against the conventions of the time, caused her to be considered something of an eccentric, if an accomplished one. Today she is remembered for her travel writing and as the author of the Scottish song, The Ballad of Auld Robin Gray, but, as Stephen Taylor ably demonstrates, there is much more to her remarkable story than that.

With the benefit of hindsight, and her detailed autobiographical notes – six volumes written in old age for the benefit of her family rather than for publication – Lady Anne Barnard seems less of an oddity and more an astute woman in control of her own path. Taylor, the first writer to be given access to to these volumes, tells her incredible tale with a great deal of wit. The result is something of a true life Jane Austen novel, perhaps married with one of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books.

Books
Daniel Shand

Book review: Fallow, by Daniel Shand

Paul and his younger brother Mikey are camping in the wild. They are on the run. Mikey, we soon learn, has recently been released from prison, having done time for the murder of a young girl when he was only a boy himself. Now Paul has taken him away, guarding him from the attentions of police, social workers, a psychologist and the press. Their mother would rather they had stayed at home, but Paul is determined that Mikey must be prevented from returning.

Books
The light boxes have been installed in many Canongate windows filled with illuminated quotes. Picture: Greg Macvean

Illuminated trail on Royal Mile to showcase famous quotations

An illuminated trail of 20 quotations will be switched on along part of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile this evening to celebrate the city’s outstanding print and publishing heritage.

Edinburgh, Fife & Lothians
The Book Generator can take the agonising out of choosing what to read next.

Jane Bradley: Generator can read you like a book

Letting a profile questionnaire decide what she should be reading next turned out to be surprisingly successful for Jane Bradley

Opinion
Stef Penney PIC: Ian Phillips-McLaren

Book review: Under a Pole Star, by Stef Penney

In a way, I am the ideal and worst reader for this novel. I have a decidedly soft spot for “neo-Victorian novels” such as John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman, AS Byatt’s Possession or Elaine di Rollo’s The Peachgrowers’ Almanack, especially those that concern themselves with the hidden lives of women. I am very interested in works set in the extreme north, whether fiction, like John Buchan’s Sick Heart River, Magnus Mills’ Explorers Of The New Century and Lynn Coady’s Saints Of Big Harbour, or non-fiction, like Kathleen Winter’s Boundless, Malachy Tallack’s Sixty Degrees North and Joanna Kavenna’s The Ice Museum. Immediately after the prologue, we learn that one of the principal characters, Flora Cochrane, née Mackie, aka The Snow Queen, is the daughter of a Dundonian captain, and grew up on his whaling vessel after the death of her mother – and one of my five favourite books of all time is Moby-Dick. Heck, the novel even prefaces each chapter with precise longitudinal and latitudinal co-ordinates, and much of the imagery centres around the constellations: the oscillation of the pole star between Polaris and Thuban is a key image, and sections have headings like “Vega in Lyra” or “Arcturus in Boötes”; and I was on the panel that awarded the Man Booker to Eleanor Catton’s astrologically provocative The Luminaries. So all the pieces were in place for me to love this book, and indeed, there are some very fine descriptive passages and a number of interesting ideas; not just about the Arctic, but about love, dominion, ambition and fulfilment. Moreover, the author has a proven track record, having won the Costa Prize ten years ago. In one sentence which a dutiful editor ought to have excised as a hostage to fortune, one character says of another’s non-fiction book, “it is a remarkably anodyne piece of fiction”. Well, quite.

But my curiosity was piqued. Why, when the book on the surface ticks so many boxes for me, did I fail to enjoy it?

Books
Robert Crawford FRSE FBA, the Scottish poet, scholar and critic, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015. Photograph by Gary Doak/Writer Pictures

Book review: Chinese Makars, by Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford is one of Scotland’s leading poets, but if there’s any justice history will also remember him as one of our more innovative educators. This latest project, created in collaboration with the photographer Norman McBeath, is a production of Crawford the poet, but it’s also worth noting the way it has fed into his teaching at the University of St Andrews, where he is a professor in the School of English.

Books
Kathleen Jamie has won Scotland's book of the year title at the annual Saltire Literary Awards.

Kathleen Jamie wins 'Scotland's book of the year' honour

A professor of poetry has won Scotland's most prestigious literary honour after challenging herself to pen a new piece of work every week.

Lifestyle
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Picture:  Robert Perry

JK Rowling sends books to Syrian fan

JK Rowling has sent Harry Potter books to a young fan in Syria after her mother messaged the author to ask how her daughter could get hold of the novels.

News
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe have become huge stars since Outlander launched two years ago.

Outlander named ahead of Trainspotting as Scotland's greatest screen adaptation

Scotland gave the worlds of film and television iconic characters like Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Inspector Rebus, Miss Jean Brodie, Rob Roy, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Lifestyle 6
Ian Rankin is among the authors to support the 'Bookfellas' campaign to encourage more men to read for pleasure. Picture: Ian Rutherford

A quarter of Scots men ‘don’t read books for pleasure’

Almost a quarter of adult Scots men admit they never read books for pleasure, according to research.

Books 2
Ali Smith is a previous Scottish winner in the Costa Book Awards. Picture: Getty Images

Leader comment: Perseverance is the write attitude

It has happened to the most successful of writers. JK Rowling and Ian Rankin are among those to have spoken of their dismay at having their early attempts at Harry Potter and Inspector Rebus rejected when they were complete unknowns.

Opinion
Writer Brian Conaghan was rejected 217 times before he managed to get any of his work published.

Former council painter from Lanarkshire in running for leading UK literary prize

A former council apprentice who had more than 200 rejections from publishers is in the running for one of Britain’s leading literary honours.

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