Goblin by Ever Dundas review – a brilliant picaresque

This prizewinning debut novel about the so-called ‘pet massacre’ of the second world war is a meditation on trauma and loss that brims with wild joy

Dead things can’t die; weirdos always find each other. These two statements, from Scottish author Ever Dundas’s terrific debut novel, contain between them much of the meaning of the book, and much that makes it moving. It is a celebration of freakery, of creating one’s own family; a meditation on trauma and loss and abandonment (in both senses of that word) which, somehow, is never bleak.Goblin brims throughout with a kind of reckless joy.

The story switches regularly and rapidly between past and almost-present, mostly in London: between the firelit city of the blitz and the firelit city of the 2011 riots. Goblin, when we first encounter her, is an 81-year-old reader-in-residence at Edinburgh’s Central Library, where she is kept company by Ben, a ...

Bizzumbaw and heidbummers: why Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is better in Scots

JK Rowling’s wizard tale has been translated into 79 foreign languages, but this new version may just be the best of all

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is not a very good book. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane is terrific.

The Scots version of JK Rowling’s debut, to be published this Thursday by Itchy Coo, is the 80th language into which the novel has been translated. But what is the point? After all, anyone who can read the book in Scots will already be able to read it in English.

Continue reading...

Bizzumbaw and heidbummers: why Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is better in Scots

JK Rowling’s wizard tale has been translated into 79 foreign languages, but this new version may just be the best of all

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is not a very good book. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane is terrific.

The Scots version of JK Rowling’s debut, to be published this Thursday by Itchy Coo, is the 80th language into which the novel has been translated. But what is the point? After all, anyone who can read the book in Scots will already be able to read it in English.

Continue reading...

You Know What You Could Be review – a Scottish tale of psychedelic folk

This enjoyable joint memoir by Mike Heron and Andrew Greig has at its centre late 60s hippiedom and the Incredible String BandThis book is a freak, a fairground mermaid, half monkey, half fish. It is therefore entirely in keeping with its subject, the Incredible String Band, the 1960s group that was never quite one thing nor another – folk or rock or world music – but always a mingling of influences, voices and styles. You Know What You Could Be is a joint memoir, at times a joints memoir, written by the String Band’s Mike Heron and the poet Andrew Greig. Despite being the marquee name and main draw, Heron here plays the support act in his own story. His contribution comes first and takes up not quite a third of the book. He sometimes uses the present tense (“I’m back at the drug emporium two days later”) ...

The Long Drop by Denise Mina review – meet Scotland’s worst serial killer

This true crime story about Peter Manuel, ‘the Beast of Birkenshaw’, alternates between a bizarre pub crawl with a relative of the victims and his trial for murder in 1958 At around 2am on 1 January 1958, in merry mood during Hogmanay celebrations, the serial killer Peter Manuel, then 30, took the telephone from his sister Theresa and sang Al Martino’s “Here in My Heart” down the line to her friend Mary, a nurse on duty at Glasgow’s Southern General hospital. Approximately three hours later, Manuel took a short walk to a bungalow in Uddingston, seven miles outside Glasgow, where he murdered the Smart family – father, mother, 10‑year-old son – in their beds, shooting each in the head. Over the following few days he made repeated visits to the scene, making himself at home among the bodies, and making sure to open a tin of salmon for the cat. ...