Aye Write…

Celtic Connections is just getting into full swing when this year’s Aye Write Book Festival line-up is released into the public domain. All relevant details can be found by clicking on http://www.ayewrite.com/. Considering that the Glasgow Comedy Festival (see http://www.glasgowcomedyfestival.com/) is also on at the beginning of March no one can say that Glasgow is not being well served in terms of festivals. I just hope that fatigue doesn’t set in.

But Aye Write always has at least a few standouts and this year these include Janice Galloway reading from a new collection of short stories, Louise Welsh launching her new novel Naming the Bones, Don Patterson, alongside fellow poet Robin Robertson, reading his latest poems and Martin Stannard talking about his recent biography of Muriel Spark.

But if I had to choose two to recommend, which I don’t but I will, they would be Edwyn Collins and his wife Grace Maxwell discussing Grace’s moving book Falling & Laughing which details Edwyn’s recovery, and her own vital role in it, from a major brain hemorrhage to making music once more.

I have spoken about this book previously (it was one of my non-fiction books of the 00’s. See Top Ten Scottish non-fiction books of the 00’s…) It is incredibly moving and honest, and, perhaps in part because he is one of my musical heroes, (see Orange Juice jonesing) one of the most uplifting books I’ve read in some time. This event will be even more special as Edwyn is also going to play at it. I can’t wait. To get both of us in the mood here is You’ll Never Know from Edwyn’s last album Home Again:

The other ‘must see’ is a double bill of young novelists; Dan Rhodes and Alan Bisset. I’ve seen both of these guys read before and it as much about the performance as it is about the literature. I can guarantee that they will be funnier than many comics working the Comedy Festival elsewhere in the city.

Both have new books to promote, but I’ve only got around to reading Alan Bisset’s Death of a Ladies Man. The man is putting together an impressive body of work. His debut Boyracers was one of those novels about young men growing up that modern Scottish writers seem to do so well, and it deserves it’s place alongside Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting and Gordon Legge’s The Shoe. But Bisset has managed to move on from that successful debut to produce an even better second novel The Incredible Adam Spark. He keeps the quality of writing high for the ‘difficult third novel’, the aforementioned Death of a Ladies Man. By this point in their writing career many novelists, particularly those whose novels are humorous, have thrown all their ideas at the first two, or try and repeat what it was that brought them that initial acclaim. I’m sure you can think of examples. Bisset has now written three very individual novels while remaining distinctly ‘Alan Bisset’ novels. If you have the time I would urge you to read them all, and in chronological order.

P.S. I’ve just noticed that Tom Leonard is also reading from a new collection of poetry. Forget all of the above, if you only go to one thing at Aye Write, go and see Tom Leonard instead. You won’t regret it.

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