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Culture in Full
James Meek PIC: Marzena Pogorsaly

Book review: To Calais, in Ordinary Time, by James Meek

I first knew James Meek as a writer of quirky and imaginative short stories. Then he became a journalist, reporting on the First Gulf War for The Scotsman. A spell as the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent followed, and as a result of his Russian experience, he wrote a remarkably fine novel, The People’s Act of Love, which won the Ondaatje Prize. More recently he has been best known as a social and political essayist, contributing chiefly to the London Review of Books. The only consistent feature of his career has been his ability to change tack unexpectedly but always successfully.

Mrs Winchester's Gun Club, by Douglas Bruton

Book review: Mrs Winchester’s Gun Club, by Douglas Bruton

At a time when it seems as if a new mass shooting takes place in the US almost every day, the publication of Scottish writer Douglas Bruton’s Mrs Winchester’s Gun Club could hardly be more timely. Set in America at the turn of the 20th century, and based on a true story, the novel tells the tale of Sarah Winchester, a grief-stricken woman who has lost both her husband and her daughter. Having inherited a fortune thanks to her husband’s ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, Sarah is plagued by a sense of guilt for the deaths of people who have been killed by guns manufactured by the firm.

Matt Damon played the murderous Mr Ripley in the film version of Patricia Highsmith's novels (Picture: Jim Cooper/AP)

Bloody Scotland’s lesson for public figures who tell lies – Alexander McCall Smith

Bloody Scotland is with us again. That is not a deliberate echo of Hamish Blair’s infamous wartime poem, Bloody Orkney, but a reference to the festival of crime fiction that takes place in Stirling at this time every year. Bloody Scotland was set up in 2012 by two well-known Scottish crime writers, Alex Gray and Lin Anderson. Over the seven years since its inception, it seems to have gone from strength to strength, as more and more people have succumbed to the pleasures of tartan noir, Scotland’s answer to the immensely popular crime fiction genre, Scandinavian noir.


Theatre review: Whirlygig, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

A madcap musical adventure for everyone aged over six, says the publicity for this new show from children’s theatre makers Catherine Wheels and Red Bridge Arts. It’s a phrase that rings true, for a show by composer-creator Daniel Padden, with co-director Gill Robertson, that often seems to owe as much to grown-up traditions of physical comedy – think Jacques Tati with a touch of Charlie Chaplin – as to the familiar business of theatrical storytelling for children.

Brian Molley

Brian Molley Quartet expands its sound with world travels

As a far-travelling band, the Brian Molley Quartet has garnered its fair share of air miles as well as some interestingly diverse musical influences. Glasgow-based saxophonist Molley, with or without his quartet, has played in the United States, Brazil and Morocco, often collaborating with local musicians, and later this month the quartet renews its long-standing relationship with India, with a tour that kicks off at Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar and Aberdeen’s Blue Lamp before flying off to Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore.

Mark Everett

Music review: Eels, O2 Academy, Glasgow

Any act that elects to arrive on stage to the triumphant strains of Bill Conti’s adrenaline-pumping Rocky fanfare had better deliver the goods to back it up. This igneous set from Mark Everett’s Eels was anything but anti-climactic.

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