Something physical occurs in the transaction between sender and receipt when the thing we read is handwritten

Kirsty Gunn: How letters can say so much more than any email

I received a lovely letter this week. It was from Mary Davidson in Edinburgh and, though it was a standard letter, sent to a number of us, it was scrawled all over with all kinds of interesting hand-written additions to the basic printed message, telling me about a package that I’d sent her and asking me if I knew the work of Leigh Hunt and his essay “the World of Books”, offering me, in a pen-to-paper way, the gift of communication that I shall certainly accept and extend.

Just when the weather starts to get nice, exam time comes round again (Picture: Getty)

Kirsty Gunn: Education is about more than cramming for exams

Exams are in the air! Swotting for them. Sitting them. Marking them. Whether or not we’re students or teachers, it’s still the case that just when things are starting to warm up a bit, there’s some sunshine about and our minds are starting to turn towards summer and holidays, that’s when exam time comes around.

Opinion 8
Crime writer Val McDermid is appearing at ReimagiNation Glenrothest ' a pop-up offshoot of the Edinburgh Book Festival. Picture: Alan McCredie

Kirsty Gunn: Culture popping up all over our ‘reimagined’ nation

Pop-up is now de rigueur. Where once it might have meant a kind of children’s book, or Jack-in-the-Box-type toy, now the word indicates a fun activity that’s more for grown-ups. A pop-up is something that appears here or there for a short time only, be it a shop or a bar or a restaurant ... or, most recently, a festival.

Opinion 1
Ruben Ostlund's The Square is about the unexpected, the terrifying and the funny in society and domestically

Kirsty Gunn: Great art makes people wonder ‘What was all that about?’

My daughter and I are still reeling after seeing Ruben Ostlund’s The Square at Dundee Contemporary Arts on Tuesday night. It can be hard to talk a teenager into a film with subtitles – has been my experience, at least – but Millie was on for it, having had many a mind-expanding experience in the velvety, comfy environment that is that wonderful, stunningly programmed cinema in the heart of Dundee. So a two-and-a-half hour film set in Stockholm’s refined art world in Swedish? Of course.

It doesn't matter who you are, your opinion about art is valid (Picture: Getty)

Kirsty Gunn: Snobbery is the death of art

‘Well I just don’t agree with you,” came the assured voice from the front row. “Not one bit!” The voice belonged to a beautifully dressed elderly woman in the small but perfectly formed lecture hall at the Smith Art Gallery. “I have strong opinions in all things,” she added, “and I have to say that I think you are completely wrong.” She gave me a charming smile and settled back in her seat so that the debate could commence. What fun.

Opinion 1
A Virgin (and Stagecoach) train crosses the bridge leading to Berwick Upon Tweed.

Kirsty Gunn: Be warned Stagecoach, you may end up in my next novel

I am in London this week for something called “The Faber Social”. I say “something” because Faber Socials are hard to pin down. I’ve been to them before and they’re great fun – a bunch of writers and musicians getting together with readers and book lovers to have a night of words and music, all brought together by the publishing house Faber and Faber’s Lee Brackstone.

Opinion 1
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