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July 17, 2007 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Alasdair Gray 0-70 2004 BBC Artworks Scotland film made on the occasion of Glasgow artist and author's (best known for Lanark) seventieth birthday. Also a short clip and another film on his mural work as embedded Youtubery at his site. (Previously.)
posted by Abiezer (19 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I was worried about suggesting Lanark to my book club as I thought it's socialist anti-elitism overtones would irk, but they loved it.
posted by CynicalKnight at 4:18 PM on July 17, 2007

i look forward to watching this. Lanark is truly unique - vivid, metaphorical, apocalyptic, surreal, unsettling, and at the same time, slightly awkward & cumbersome, like its wrong-child protagonist. leaves a hint of sulphuric bile in your mouth.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:24 PM on July 17, 2007

I have never heard of Gray or of Lanark--very exciting, thanks!
posted by everichon at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2007

I hadn't watched the second full-length film when I posted. I am now and am enjoying it even more than the 70th birthday tribute. Alasdair talks as he works at restoring one of his early murals rediscovered after being lost and papered over for decades.
posted by Abiezer at 5:02 PM on July 17, 2007

I love Lanark. What a stunning book. I really must get around to reading some of his other novels. Has anyone here read his other stuff?
posted by Kattullus at 5:17 PM on July 17, 2007

Both of those documentaries were ace, thanks for that. Like I said in my comment in the previous (linked) thread, I love Alasdair Gray.

Kattullus: there's plenty of other Gray to read, but the best for the uninitiated is Poor Things, which is one of my favourite books ever.
posted by Len at 5:40 PM on July 17, 2007

Thanks for this.

I read Poor Things several years ago. I have trouble remembering it (or much of anything!) but I do recall apriciating the way he captured (and poked fun at) Victorian writing.

My dad is super into him, so I'll send along the links to him too.
posted by serazin at 6:35 PM on July 17, 2007

I was lucky enough to hear Gray read during my brief stay in Glasgow years ago. Incredibly funny man, and Poor Things is a great book.
posted by selfnoise at 7:17 PM on July 17, 2007

I found Lanark good, but pretty profoundly depressing. The novel is clearly autobiographical, but the primary character is portrayed as a fairly miserable and flawed individual who never finds any real redemption. In many of his personal crises he seems to react so stubbornly and without a shred of self-insight that it almost made me angry reading the words on the page. One can't help but notice that Alastair Gray seems quite well-adjusted by contrast. The imagery in the the fantastic chapters is, however, amazing.
posted by leo woodward at 10:48 PM on July 17, 2007

I first came across Gray with Unlikely Stories: Mostly which I'd heartily recommend although it's been a while since I picked it up. Great surreal stories and beautiful layout, typography & illustrations. A modern day Eric Gill?
posted by i_cola at 4:42 AM on July 18, 2007

Gray's unconventional work with typography and form are worth noting here. Combined with his unusual and often bizarre content, his books can be a very unique experience. Lanark is a real tour de force. 1982 Janine, Lanark, Poor Things, all good stuff. Sometimes I skip by the social commentary to get to the weirdness.
posted by Area Control at 5:43 AM on July 18, 2007

Gray is amazing... Poor Things, a mystery wrapped in another mystery - who is telling the truth about what happened...where the truth lies in a note tacked at the end of the book - as if truth lies in the petty details we usually ignore. All of his books are worth reading.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:17 AM on July 18, 2007

Oh, I can't wait to watch this.

I love Gray, and I think he's just great, but I have to say that I was least pleased by Lanark as a book. I can't quite figure out why people love it so much. In a strange way I thought it was a re-tread of The Horse's Mouth but more depressing.
posted by OmieWise at 11:46 AM on July 18, 2007

Alasdair Gray means a lot to Glasgow and to me personally. It felt truly great when reading Lanark for the first time as a youngster to read someone writing about places that I personally knew and were local to me.

I would recommend Gray to anyone. His books are lovely to look at as well as being very enjoyable reads. I would particularly recommend his Book of Prefaces, an anthology of prefaces to great works of literature in English from an A.D. 675 translation of Genesis to the 1920 poems of Wilfred Owen. The artwork is great and the often stinging mini-essays are fantastic. It's a great book to look at as well as to dip into when the fancy takes you. Perhaps the best toilet book ever.

As for his artwork, if you ever go to Glasgow you should look out for his murals in the staircase of the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant and Oran Mor pub/club (both off Byres Road in the West End). They are great murals in Gray's very idiosyncratic style.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:36 PM on July 18, 2007

Sorry above link isn't working. Book of Prefaces link here.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:38 PM on July 18, 2007

I watched all five parts, thanks for posting that.
"...fifty odd years ago he used to talk about the pursuit of the golden silence, about writing all his words, and getting rid of them, and being able to pain freely." The art just seems to flow out of this man.
posted by Area Control at 4:18 PM on July 18, 2007

I'm sure I meant paint. I dunno.
posted by Area Control at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2007

Excellent! Lanark is fuckin' awesome. Everyone, go read it!
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:55 PM on July 18, 2007

Amazing. Thanks for the post.

posted by martart at 12:32 AM on July 19, 2007

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