Unlikely stories, likely
February 20, 2008 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Poet, playwright, novelist, mural painter, experimentalist, illustrator; a “fat, spectacled, balding, increasingly old Glasgow pedestrian”; and perhaps “the greatest Scottish novelist since Sir Walter Scott,” Alasdair Gray has a new book out.

The “maker of imagined objects,” perhaps best known for "Lanark," also blogs his poetry/prose/plays, offers up a lovely archive of some hard-to-find volumes, and shows us the storyboards for the late lamented attempt at a Lanark film. If you’re curious, an excellent bio awaits, as does your new-found quest to locate his hard-to-find, out-of-print titles (requisite Wikipedia link for building your checklist). (Previously here and here.)
posted by jbickers (20 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
1982 Janine is one of my favourite novels. Here's Will Self's introduction to it
posted by liam at 2:58 PM on February 20, 2008

This is fantastic. Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on February 20, 2008

Not the greatest Scottish novelist since Sir Walter Scott by a distance. Maybe in his own lunchtime at the Ubiquitous Chip.

Storyboard is interesting though.
posted by fire&wings at 3:44 PM on February 20, 2008

Your favorite controversial Glaswegian author sucks.

Seriously good post!
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 3:55 PM on February 20, 2008

Wow, I'd not seen the Lanark film storyboards before.
posted by jack_mo at 3:59 PM on February 20, 2008

I really, really need to read more Alasdair Gray. 1982 Janine is one of those books that's been on my to-read list since I read the wondrous Lanark seven or eight years ago and loved, loved, loved it, but I keep forgetting about 1982 Janine when I'm looking for what to read after finishing a book.
posted by Kattullus at 4:09 PM on February 20, 2008

>>the greatest Scottish novelist since Sir Walter Scott

I guess some folks have forgotten about Robert Louis Stevenson because his ideas have become part of everyday language; that there are entire concepts that can't be touched upon without referencing his body of work.

That must be it.
posted by SaintCynr at 4:31 PM on February 20, 2008

nice post, cheers.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:01 PM on February 20, 2008

Nice post.

I had an argument about Lanark in the pub on Friday night with a man who insisted that I hadn't read it because, "No-one's read that shit." I was indignant. Which didn't help.

Anyway, some other Alasdair Gray links:
The Scots Hippo - a print series he did last year
An exhibition of paintings in Glasgow in April
A full biography of Gray by his assistant Rodge Glass is due out in September.

Long may the old codger continue to sit on his front step drinking Special Brew.
posted by little apollo at 6:11 PM on February 20, 2008

I have always meant to get a "work as if you were in the earlier days of a better nation" tattoo, thanks for the reminder.
posted by jessamyn at 6:12 PM on February 20, 2008

Man is the pie that bakes and eats itself.
posted by kcds at 6:53 PM on February 20, 2008

"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation" is also the title of a previous MeFi post, and is carved onto the outside of the new Scottish Parliament building (tours available to MeFites on request).
posted by imperium at 12:18 AM on February 21, 2008

This makes my day, completely. Thanks!
posted by El Brendano at 2:12 AM on February 21, 2008

Excellent post - thanks! I look forward to reading his new book.
posted by goo at 2:13 AM on February 21, 2008

Good to see A. Gray here 'new book' is a stretch - it came out last October.
posted by Mocata at 2:28 AM on February 21, 2008

There's a good audio interview with Grey here.

Been meaning to read Lanark for ages, not least because it's supposed to have been a huge influence on Iain Bank's The Bridge (probably my favourite novel)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:43 AM on February 21, 2008

Great post -- thanks, jbickers. Gray is fantastic, and criminally under-read. As liam has already noted, 1982 Janine is a terrific book; A History Maker and Something Leather (first edition available for 39 cents) are also well worth reading.
posted by newmoistness at 7:47 AM on February 21, 2008

Great stuff; I'd never seen the storyboards before. Some pics of the mural he did for the Scotland – Russia society, apparently as a graduation project, here (scroll down for some more).
posted by Len at 9:39 AM on February 21, 2008

Great post; Gray is wonderful - check out his "Poor Things" a wild fantasmagorical novel told in the most charming alarming deadpan. He also illustrated and compiled a book called "A Book of Prefaces" which is just that: a book of prefaces of great English-speaking writers going back before Chaucer. He makes the history of English the daring, racing and slightly subversive thing that it really is/was. Throw out all the crappy English textbooks; Gray's "Prefaces" should be required reading for every high school student in America. Cheers.
posted by Dex Quire at 10:26 PM on February 21, 2008

Great stuff! Thanks!
posted by ClanvidHorse at 3:19 PM on February 26, 2008

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