The Good Word: Scots Whay Hae!’s Best Books Of 2016…

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It’s the time for ‘Books Of The Year’ lists and we like to think that Scots Whay Hae!’s selection for 2016, while small, is beautifully formed and well worthy of your attention.

These are the books which stood out against a lot of stiff and perhaps better known competition. The list could have been longer but we like to stick to a traditional Top Ten. Consisting mostly of novels, with one remarkable collection of short stories, and one unforgettable musical (auto)biography, these are the books which have left their mark. Here’s what we thought at the time:

51xve7sbigl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Young Soul Rebels – Stuart Cosgrove

Stuart Cosgrove writes as he broadcasts – eloquently, forcefully and at pace, and as such he makes persuasive and forceful arguments. If you have a music fan in your life, then I would suggest this book is the perfect gift. If they are a soul fan, then it is a must. Anyone who has ever pored over liner notes, obsessed over b-sides, searched out limited editions and rarities, or cued hours for tickets or entry will recognise themselves at least in part on the page, no matter what their musical tastes. Stuart Cosgrove is here to remind you that while music may not be a matter of life and death (and there are poignant reminders of that in Young Soul Rebels) it certainly makes the former worth living. Continue reading

The Road Less Travelled: A Review Of Kellan MacInnes’ The Making Of Mickey Bell…

mickey-bell Kellan MacInnes’ novel, The Making Of Mickey Bell, is darkly comic tale with a protagonist who deals with triumph and despair and treats those impostors as the same…

Kellan MacInnes’ novel, The Making Of Mickey Bell, is a heart-felt missive to Scottish literature, referencing many of its best writers and poets…

Kellan MacInnes’ novel, The Making Of Mickey Bell, is an experimental work at times reminiscent of Kafka and Kelman…

All three of the above were attempts to begin this review, and all of them give a truth, but not the whole truth. The truth is that Kellan MacInnes’ The Making Of Mickey Bell is possibly the most packed novel you will read this year. It’s bursting with ideas, stylistic flourishes, unusual narrative voices and literary experimentation which makes it stand out in the crowd. There is so much going it threatens to overwhelm at times, but, mainly through Mickey Bell’s constant stravaiging, you are moved on to the next scenario slightly dazed but never confused.

It’s a novel which takes urban realism kicking and screaming into the wilds of Scotland. Imagine the famous scene in Trainspotting where Tommy tries to get Renton, Spud and Sick Boy up a mountain, and instead of them turning tail and heading back to Leith they decide to give it a go. Mickey Bell uses climbing munros as personal therapy,  but his embracing of the country is a strong reminder, as if it were needed, that it’s not so “shite being Scottish” after all. Continue reading