The Long & Short Of It: A Review Of James Kelman’s That Was A Shiver And Other Stories…


There is an argument which you may have heard, possibly on these pages, that while James Kelman is one of the finest novelists around today, the format which suits his writing best is the short story. Kelman’s narratives are not about plot, they are snapshots of people’s everyday lives; lives which have been going on before we become involved, and which will continue once we have moved on, and that seems to work best in short, sharp bursts – fleeting, like thoughts themselves.

His latest collection, That Was A Shiver and Other Storiesis testament to this. For Kelman acolytes there are all the usual touchstones – references to other art forms, existential philosophy, the influence of Descartes (‘Clinging On’), internal monologues, socio/political commentary, and an unconventional use of language and grammar. But there are also surprises. There’s more obvious humour in these stories than has previously been the case. Kelman has always been funny (“I cannot eat a Johnny Cash cassette!”, from ‘the same is here again’, being just one example), but it was always a dark, unsettling, almost gallows humour which has become synonymous with the west of Scotland. Continue reading

A Life In Pictures: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Alasdair Gray & Kevin Brown…


The latest podcast is a fascinating conversation with two previous guests, the writer and artist, Alasdair Gray, and the driving force behind Songs For Scotland, Kevin Brown,

Kevin is curating ALASDAIR GRAY’s Life in Pictures: the Exhibition. Paintings, Drawings and Prints, 1951 – 2017 (27 July 2017 – 12 August 2017), which will feature a selection of Alasdair’s art at London’s Coningsby Gallery, and he tells us all about the what, why, when and where’s.

Alasdair discusses at length the trials and tribulations of his previous exhibitions, how many contemporaries felt the pull of London, what inspired him to illustrate his writing, the importance of protecting public art, and much, much more. He even gives us some insight into his latest project, a very personal take on Dante’s Divine Comedy. This is a rare chance to hear one of Scotland’s greatest artists talking in some detail about his life in pictures. Continue reading