Books

Books

Fringe and book festival to team up to run new outdoor arena

Fringe promoters are set to join forces with organisers of Edinburgh’s long-running book festival to run venues due to take over part of one of the capital’s main thoroughfares.

Books
Author JK Rowling has helped fuel the boom in children's book sales. Picture: Robert Perry

Leader comment: Print still in rude health

The latest book sales figures provide further proof that past predictions of the death of the printed word were wide of the mark.

Opinion
Children's book sales increased by 16 per cent last year.  Picture: Alex Hewitt

Record books sales as e-reading loses out to words on a page

Scottish publishers have welcomed record book sales, including a boom in printed titles at the expense of the e-book.

News
Richard Beard PIC: Gary Doak/Writer Pictures

Book review: The Day That Went Missing, by Richard Beard

Richard Beard is one of those infuriatingly unclassifiable writers. Not the least of the virtues of this immensely plangent memoir is that he has decided to classify himself. To recap his career: his first novels were influenced by the OuLiPo movement, which prized constraint as a means to develop expression. X20 was a novel in which the protagonist only wrote whenever the craving for one of the 20-a-day cigarettes he had given up came upon him – it is up there with Svevo’s Confessions Of Zeno as a great nicotine novel; and Damascus restricted itself (with a dozen exceptions) to nouns found in one day’s issue of the Times. The Cartoonist was more May 68 than OuLiPo, and featured a daemonic amusement park and possible terror. His next book was an elegy for rugby; he later wrote a brilliant book on cricket, Australia and failure. His next novel, Dry Bones, was a satirical look at relics and what we leave behind, and was followed by an early outlier, Becoming Drusilla about his friend Drew’s transition from male to female. His last two books, Lazarus Is Dead and Acts Of The Assassins were ingenious reimaginings of Biblical stories; one an essay-come-fictive reconstruction, the other a time-mash of contemporary espionage and the fates of the apostles. So where after that?

Books
Victoria Whitworth

Book review: Swimming With Seals by Victoria Whitworth

There’s no shortage of books about wild swimming out this month and next, to the extent that some larger bookshops may soon need to think about making space for a dedicated wild swimming section. In Floating (Duckworth Overlook, out now), journalist Joe Minihane follows in the footsteps (breaststrokes?) of Roger Deakin and embarks on a wild swimming odyssey around the UK, while in Turning – A Swimming Memoir (Virago, 4 May), Jessica J Lee sets out to swim 52 of the lakes around Berlin, sometimes using a hammer to break the ice before taking the plunge. There’s some wild swimming history, too, in Swell by Jenny Landreth (Bloomsbury, 4 May), which tells the story of the “swimming suffragettes” who, in the early decades of the 20th century, made swimming – both in artificial pools (probably best not to say “man-made” in this context) and in lakes, rivers and seas – the egalitarian pastime it is today.

Perhaps the most intriguing prospect of the lot, however, and certainly of most interest to Scottish readers, is Swimming With Seals, by the academic and novelist Victoria Whitworth. Ostensibly, it’s a book about her experiences of swimming off the coast of Orkney (wetsuit-less, since you ask, and yes, all year round) where she lived for several years. But there’s so much more going on under the surface – so many interesting undercurrents pulling the reader in different directions – that to simply call it “a book about wild swimming” would be to miss the point.

Books
Author David Spaven. Picture: Contributed

Scottish author wins national ‘Railway Book of the Year’ award

AUTHOR David Spaven has won a prestigious Britain-wide transport award.

News 1
Loch Hakel. Picture: Contributed

Project launched to celebrate the Gaelic bard, Rob Dunn

HE is arguably as important to Gaelic poetry as his contemporary Robert Burns is to poetry in Scots.

News
Author Mark O'Connell. Picture: Rich Gilligan

Book review: To Be A Machine, by Mark O’Connell

This exploration of the transhumanist dream of defeating death by turning into machines is riveting, comic, fascinating – and appalling

Books
Was Ernest Hemingway really a spy?

Book review: Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, by Nicholas Reynolds

Was America’s Nobel laureate also a Soviet spy? asks Vin Arthey

Books

Mark Millar’s journey from Glasgow to Gotham

Mark Millar could never have imagined comics would have him rubbing shoulders with Hollywood A-listers, but if his life work has taught us anything it’s not all heroes wear capes.

News
Dawn O'Porter celebrates her new novel The Cows. Picture: Debra Hurford Brown (with thanks to The Marylebone , 47 Welbeck Street , London , W1G 8DN 
www.doylecollection.com/marylebone)

Interview: Dawn O’Porter

TV presenter turned best-selling author talks about refusing to follow the herd with her new novel The Cows

News
Brian Limond, creator of the hit BBC Scotland series Limmys Show, will release his second book of short stories next month. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL

Interview: Limmy reveals how coding skills made him famous

The creator of the hit BBC Scotland series Limmy’s Show followed an unconventional route to stardom, writes Chris McCall

Tech 2
Polly Clark

Book review: Larchfield by Polly Clark

There is an old writing cliché which I have always deplored: show, don’t tell. It is a false dichotomy in the first place, since good writing is always polyphonic. There are times where telling is apposite, times when showing is appropriate, times when inference, irony, hectoring, lecturing, hinting and lilting are also what the story needs. But the sad truth is that the cliché is a cliché because it contains a truth, and this novel must be one of the most tell-y and telling I have read.

Books
Christopher Brookmyre  PIC: Chris Close

Book review: Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre

Journalist Jack Parlabane has always been my favourite Chris Brookmyre character, his dastardly deeds done in the search of the truth righteously hilarious from Quite Ugly One Morning onwards. The chastened post-Leveson, newly-divorced Parlabane – seen most recently in the 2016 McIlvanney Prize-winning Black Widow – was a creature adrift, but gaining more depth and interest.

Books
Well of the Winds by Denzil Meyrick

Book review: Well of the Winds, by Denzil Meyrick

Like all good Scottish crime novels should, Denzil Meyrick’s Well of the Winds starts with a murder. This particular gruesome killing takes place in 1945, immediately transporting us back to the historic events which intertwine with a modern-day police mystery in Meyrick’s fifth novel in the DCI Daley series.

Books
Rob Butlin PIC: Phil Wilkinson

Book review: Billionaires’ Banquet, by Ron Butlin

Billionaires’ Banquet is a very Edinburgh novel, and not only because there is a lot about the weather, mostly foul – “penitential” was, I think, what Stevenson called it. Indeed the shade of Stevenson, updated and sent walking Edinburgh’s streets today, hangs over this novel as surely as a haar creeps in from the Forth. The celebrated duality is here, a duality contained within the heart and mind of every individual in this city where – Stevenson again – “Social inequality is nowhere more ostentatious than at Edinburgh”.

Books
David Jones

Book review: David Jones - Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet, by Thomas Dilworth

In an essay on GK Chesterton, another Catholic convert, Graham Greene, wrote: “A man lives for seventy years: to make sense of this is a worse labour than reducing to order the record of a mere four years’ war. To simplify is essential.” He might have been thinking of the task facing any biographer of David Jones. Jones is one of the most important British poets of the 20th century – In Parenthesis and The Anathemata are, quite simply, masterpieces – but he was also a combatant in the First World War, a Catholic convert, an enthusiast for Wales and the “Matter of Britain”, a man who cautiously and naively hoped that Hitler was just the necessary Valerian to a future, better Constantine, an agoraphobic, a supporter of Enoch Powell, an astonishing painter, a man thrown out of churches for looking like a tramp, a carver of lettering unsurpassed, a man who fell hopelessly in love, and a virgin.

Books
Portia Simpson

Book review: The Gamekeeper, by Portia Simpson

Portia Simpson is notable as perhaps the first female to hold gamekeeping qualifications in Scotland. Graduating in 2003 and spending her working life in a male-dominated and traditionally conservative industry, you can imagine tabloids being interested in her story – with such memorable moments as lunching with the Royal family on shoots at Balmoral and working on the Ardverikie estate during the filming of Monarch Of The Glen.

Books
Author Elanor Dymott. Picture: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images

Book review: Silver & Salt, by Elanor Dymott

Both pleasing and disturbing, Elanor Dymott’s novel is a clever but sometimes rambling study of emotional discord and moral complexities

Books
Libraries are popular among families with primary schoolchildren. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Scots ‘most likely in UK to use public libraries’

Scotland has the highest level of public library use in the UK, according to researchers.

Education 5
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