necessity demands the kind of advances Canongate can’t offer. ‘That enables me to get ahead with other things that I’m interested in.’ These include a mural for a local history museum in Dunfermline (there is, he points out, no ‘physical or psychological’ similarities to the church mural Thaw obsesses over in Lanark) and a script adaptation of his last novel Poor Things (he hadn’t realised, he chuckles, how perfect Robbie Coltrane would be for the character of Godwin Baxter). His main preoccupation. though. is the task he has been wading through for the past seven or eight years:

his second life~work. The Anthology 0f Pre aces. ‘It’s an elaborate thing,’ he understates. ‘It’s shaping up very nicely . . .’

Ideally this 59-year-old, archetypal mad

professor-type would have enough income to devote himself to the Anthology, ‘so I didn’t need to write other things.’ Something Leather, he cheerfully admits, was written out of financial necessity. He has no problem with the fact that this admission of mercenary creativity

will be grist to the mill for those Gray fans who find Something Leather ‘the one they least like they feel that the pornographic element in it has not been assimilated into art.’

‘lt’s more beguiling and more interesting for the reader if they get it packaged and arranged by me. There’s more to be enjoyed in it.’

The confusions and contradictions are part of the genius of Alasdair Gray. Next to the staggering depth and breadth of his literary influences, the visual stimuli for his paintings are Alice In Wonderland, Grimms Fairy Tales, comics and Walt Disney. He is avowedly socialist and (Scottish) nationalist, yet seems quite pleased that right-wing philosopher and Thatcherite guru Roger Scruton is a fan of lanai-k. He will write for money so he can write for art. A bonkbuster doubles as a polemical treatise. And while he is the first to deflate his


A History Maker: Alasdair Gray

own celebrity, he has no qualms about finding

inspiration in indulgence. ‘I was deliberately

writing a book about the Portrait OfThe Scottish

Artist As A Young Man,’ he says of lanark.

‘But the difference was that he was going to fail

as an artist. . .’ Cl

' There are no notes on notes; this bit added for rhythmic reasons.

A puddock, in the Scots vernacular. is a frog.

A Thatcher. in the Scots vernacular, is slimey and repellent, too.

A History Maker is published by Canongate on 14 November at £13.99.

Alasdair Gray will be appearing at James Thin, South Bridge, Edinburgh, Mon 14th at 7pm and Waterstones, Union St, Glasgow, Thurs 17th at 6.30pm.


The List 4—l7 November 199413