Death W before dishonour -‘

Sue Wilson talks to the distinguished Scots writer Iain Crichton Smith about his latest _. “OVel ahd (belOW) leeks at a new Ian Crichton Smith: ’l’ve always a collection of wr1t1ng by Scottish

( I a-

can interested in loneliness; I think it comes from when I was growing up in Lewis.’

interested in loneliness; I think it comes from represent the stifled Part Of his nature. his

women° when I was growing up in Lewis there were a lot unexpressed, unconscious desire for the ‘supple, Iain Crichton Smith once stated that he liked ofpeople at that time who lived alone; also, my Variable‘ experience Ol human compiluiOHShip- novels ‘ifpossible to be generated by some kind of mother was widowed, and I think probably she felt For MaCdonald's 0WD CUlture Was- in reality. “given” imaginative fact.‘ In his new book,An the loneliness ofbringing upthree boys without a CloseFtO thatothis meni ‘Attths lived in tithes as Honourable Death. it is supplied by the true story husband quite hard. It‘s something I‘ve been Highlanders in elahs- - - he COUld imagine them of ‘Fighting Mac‘, a crofter‘s son who, in 1870, writing about for a long time; I suppose it‘s gathering YOUUd a life and telling eaeh other aged seventeen, ran away from his apprenticeship because it’s the utmost limit at which people can be stories, mUCh as had been done in the Highlands.‘ in an Inverness kiltmaker’s and joined the army as tested.’ There are 3“ Sorts 0f ironies hete~‘ says Cttehteh a private. With the Gordon Highlanders, he was Macdonald's sense of isolation, of being set Smith- ‘You‘d had the EngliSh armies coming UP posted to India, Afghanistan, South Africa and apart by class and culture from his well-heeled t0 SCOtlaud‘ the battle OtCUHOden ahd various the Sudan, rising through the ranks to become fellow officers, resonates throughout the novel, ' Others» and Yet Maedehald W35 detng more 0’ less Major-General Sir Hector Macdonald, a signalling the cultural dislocation at the heart of his the same over in these countries Where he fought. legendary fighter and a national hero. In 1903, he tragedy. His loyalty to the Empire is described as The Wh0le idea 0t 3 emtteris 30" defending the was accused of homosexuality and a court-martial ‘deeply deceived‘, and Crichton Smith draws out Empire is rather ironic; I find it very sad that a lot was ordered. Unable to face the humiliation, the numerous paradoxes in his situation with 0f the Empire was htttlt 0" the basis 0t SCOtS Macdonald shot himself in a Paris hotel room. immaculate sensitivity. Macdonald‘s tireless , regiments. by people like him.‘ It's a tragedy he

Crichton Smith fleshes out the bare bones of this efforts to mould his native Sudanese regiment into encapsulates With beautiful economy at the very history with a spare and perceptive exploration of a well-ordered army machine are described as a end 0f the hovelt When. after Hector has shot the enigmatic, tortured man behind the hero. struggle between two cultures: ‘a supple, variable, himself, his blOOd is described as ‘mimleklhg as it ‘What struck me immediately about his story was feminine one met by a rational demanding one,‘ Were 00 the luxurious carpet the relentless Spread that he was a very poor man who became an officer and his near-obsession with discipline was the key 0f Empire-' last century and therefore he would be a very to both his success and his downfall. His An Honourable Death ispublllshed by Mae’mlla" lonely person,’ he explains. ‘I‘ve always been : (unconsummated) homosexuality seems to “(£13 99

I abusive father by working as a . that’s holding their minds together’,

Female ; fictions

prostitute in London. Taking a break in I teaching MacDiarmid’s ’A Drunk Man an all-night cafe, she considers her I Looks at The Thistle’ to her Scots class ’optlons’: ‘In two years time, she would (she’s English); it‘s a thoughtful and be old enough to get a shitey, dirty job j revealing exploration of the ‘Auld

in here and work all week to earn what Enemy’ theme. Sylvia Pearson’s ‘The she could in a day, just now.’ Janice White Dog’ is an appalling tale of Galloway's ‘Smooth' is a raw vignette apartheid brutality, but it also testifies of loss, inscribing the bewildering, to the black community’s solidarity and

Anyone seeking evidence of the 5 caustic pain of rejection and : courage (and the decency of some currently thriving state of Scottish , self-recrlmination, the physical and , whites) and ends on a note of spirited writing could do tar worse than mm to mental minutiae of emotion with defiance, while Mary McCann’s ‘Rosie’ Polygon's latest ‘Orlginal prints' , characteristic intensity. vividly evokes the fears and

anthology of new stories and poems by 3 Several of the best pieces are written 2 insecurities of a thirteen-year-old girl Scottish women. Drawn largely tram an i in Scots, like Alison Kennack’s f already worrying if her bottom looks

; achineg bitter-sweet ‘A Wee Tatty’, in too big in a swimsuit. which a man dying of asbestosis, Very few cheerful notes are sounded j

' having “goat the idea city the telly’ from about a woman’s lot in 908 Scotland;

open submission, with some commissions from previous contributors, it’s a strikingly

Impressive collection. a Chinese boy who wrote 2000 loss, rejection, abuse, pain and It opens with Margaret Elphinstone’s 1 characters on a single grain of rice, sell-600M ate tecutteflt themes, While

quietly hard-hitting variation on a Janice Galloway, one of the contributorsto i “Vets 3 Delete With 253 SW88! words. the "tedomlnam lone '3 one 0' r c'asslc theme; a woman decayed by a the strikingly impressive collection: ? ‘jist tay day sumhin tay leeve sumhin hittemess’ anget 0' hurt 0" the “that l charming liar. in lean, resonant prose attitflal Prints Fm" F betilml that peel)!" Wld "'8be notice-' "am I" the" assumnce' cm." and

she exposes the spsycmc rapes ; Other strong con‘f'buflons influde "Ch diVCfSlty, the Valces gathefed "8'8 l jomsong staple acmij emails; ‘ms resounding failure.’ A.L. Kennedy's ; Alison Armstrong’s ‘The Cockney 8“ “ii to a 90'"th and 903m“ . only reason to, doing this was to make bleak, compelling ’Act of Union’ is a i Piper’, featuring a weary evening-class ? collectlve Statement in themseh'es- l mm," m] poweflm, since my me different kind of classic tale: a young 5 tutor coping with students for whom angina. pnms F0", is "hushed b i was a success, and his, to date, a Scots woman escaping poverty and an j ‘educatlon is the sticky-tape and string 1 polygon on 30 An," a £5 95 y I

The List {6:35AM 1992 61