MATTHEW FITT Kate 0 Shanter's Tale and Other Poems

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li/rd hlest. .or. Matthe.‘. l 'tt l or mu rna. [rust he the :.a'.rour o‘ rnodern Sfirrttrsh poetry, a torrrr .‘xhrch car: srrrnetrnres seern as though as taught rn a trough ot self rete'entral (iaelrr; pageantr‘, lhrshj, w rntrast rs that '.'er‘, rare l)l'(ljit[)l)l?ll\{1()ll(f(.l'()ll you '.‘.'r|l not \.'.'ant to put ill )\.'.'r r.

lrtt has a schernre's ear lor the ned vernacular hut also has the wt and comic trrrrrng of a young ()scar VVIKIU. lhrs rs a scream trorn start to trnrsh, lhe opener. 'Pr‘lrclarnatrourr', with rts lrrst Irne I'Ken thae proclarrner‘s ken'r rs hrlarrous hut l rtt (turckh proves hrrnselt to he a poet ol corrsrderahle verve and talent With the remarkath evocatrx'e ‘(Ihrc ()harnley and 'Skrnnymalrnk'.

llre second part of the hook tries rn part to deal ‘Mth the 19-12 assassrrratron of Reinhard lle\,'drrch, the Nazi progenitor of the lrnal Solutron, before settling hack rrrto the cheeky rrtt ot poems lrke 'lakeaway' and the gloriously populist trtle poem. A must for poetry tans. ll)aul Dalet

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BEN RICHARDS The Mermaid and the Drunks

r\.‘\’erdente|d 8. Nicolson S‘El.ti£ll 000

Chile rs a countr\ ot extrerrres. both natural and man made. In Ben Richards trtth novel. the author examrnes the corrrplex hrstorw of a rratrorr SOOIltrttgh forever at odds wrth itself. and anchors rt rrr a drearrr; narrative that tlrts around tire countn; from the capital Santrago to the rural hrnterlarrds.

A cast of attluerrt acaderrrrcs populates


[he fulemrarl’: Tlll' Drunks. hut Hurrards does manage to rrrrhue sirrrre passion into hrs cerehral characters and p'ovrdes rust enough actron to prevent the stor‘, dryrng .rp. lhe rrrarn thrust concerns the tnendshrp hetween l resra. a reiurnrng ()hrlean exrle who has recently lost her lather, and .Joe. a young Scottish lecturer on a sahhatrcal to wrrte a hook ahout the country. Richards creates complex. three drrrrensronal character's WIN] ease. and hrs avordance of tred ends and happy endings rs to he applauded. But there remains something rnettectual and slight ahout this rnterestrng vet flawed hook. rDoug .Jolrnstoner

HOCKN'HOH ll Hill 1 t H DAN COLLINS How it Ends

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Dan Collrns spins a erd weh around rrrterrratrorralh acclarrrred rock'n'roll hlack r'lrdow Lee Anrrrs. a worrrerr tlrttrng rmpulsrvek from (Tll) to city rn an attempt to keep hold of her sarrrty while all around rs crurrrhlrng. Hm rock band Anaconda rs (trsrrrtegratrrrg. there's no one she can trust and then there's some trrcky lClaIlOtlSltIDS wrth hand mate Billy, her estranged husband and a haby troy. And Just tOr good meaSere. you can chuck rn the venorrrous muSlC

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And hov. does. Untrdrlh rrr‘ec/rrrcrlahl‘, and llLlf‘rllétlllltlll, vMark Hrrhertson.


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Scotland has hecome a fertile hreedrng ground for novels exploring socrety's dark urrdertx—rlly. In hrs first novel. ’l/lt. larrr Bahlar hrrngs a krnd of detached hurrrarrrty to some serioust drsturhed gorngs-on rn the krngdorrr of He rn a somewhat slrght hut vrvrd ston of dead end. small town lrte and the trope of escape

Scott rs not long out of school rrr Krrkcaldr, and trrrds hrrrrself workrng as a rent hoy and makrng no—hudget gay porn trims. As the story progresses. Scott's r.'-.’ork and Irfe hecorrre rrrore and more hardcore. rncludrng seltrrrutrlatron and auto-erotrr: asphyxratron, wrth only dreams of a normal Irte wrth the girl from McDonald's. and an Ulillkel) trrerrdshrp wrth a pal's yOung son. Lee. to keep hrrn gorrrg.

T/lt rs bleak and harrowmg stuff at tunes. but Bahlar rmbues enough human sprrrt rrrto hrs marn Character to prevent this Decomrng Just another tiresome


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prose drrves the tales of rrrohsters .'.'rth ()lrrrsfze. tzre't ,ar‘ket :r'. r' r.- tlrese two men mth untlrnchrng. tense calm. Their paths cross and rrrrrror each other wrth

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Read around Books rScottrsh Book Trust. 0...

Take a sample of Galloway, Delahunt and Faber

With the world becoming an ever more fragile place with each passing day. one thing is for sure: life is just too short. We'd all love to read every single book we‘ve ever bought, borrowed or stolen but the realisation must dawn that unless you win the lottery and have unlimited hours on your hands. those dust-gathering tomes sitting on those yet-muckier shelves will remain unthumbed just where they are. Indefinitely.

So, what a cracking little idea the Read around Books series of samplers is. If you haven’t been bothered yet to plough your way through Scottish standards such as Trocchi’s Young Adam. Crichton Smith’s Murdo: The Life and Works and Spark's The Collectors. here's a chance to discover whether you want to go that extra yard with the full tome. Each sampler contains an extract from the book in question, a note about its chosen enthusiast plus their particular enthusiasms. discussion points, press quotes and further reading suggestions.

The current crop of top Scottish and Scotland-based writers adds contemporary zeal to the collection with Ali Smith’s Hotel World, Janice Galloway's Clara, Michel Faber‘s Under the Skin and Meaghan Delahunt's In the Blue House all in there.

No doubt the pernickety will complain that there‘s no Kelman or Welsh. RLS or ALK, but later collections may salve those moans. In a universe short on time, this is your chance to cram in the classics. (Brian Donaldson)