Reviews & features: Books

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Gerald Scarfe

7 Aug 2009

He’s been like a massive pin sticking holes in the authority’s swollen balloons for five decades now, and Gerald Scarfe’s political cartoons show little sign of having the edge taken away from them. He studied with Ralph Steadman and counts Pink Floyd…

Home truths

6 Aug 2009

From fish factory worker to TS Eliot Prize-winning poet, Jen Hadfield talks to Kirstin Innes

It’s been a strange old year for poetry. Although the highs of Carol Ann Duffy’s appointment as the first female Poet Laureate and the unpleasantness of Ruth Padel and Derek Walcott’s fight for the Oxford Professor of Poetry position have almost…

Dave Gorman

6 Aug 2009

A one-man innovative juggernaut going coast to coast

Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure is ostensibly the story of a comedian travelling the world trying to establish disparate pairings of words that return just one hit in the search engine. ‘Essentially a show about me having a breakdown’, is how Gorman…

Five festival over-achievers

6 Aug 2009

Robin Ince One can only assume that Robin Ince sits in a thick blue funk for that small portion of the day when he isn’t A) hosting a ‘lunchtime celebration of science and the wonderful’, B) being a ‘bleeding-heart liberal’ or C) opposing ‘the moral…

5 Questions: Carol Ann Duffy

6 Aug 2009

Glasgow-born Carol Ann Duffy may be a tad busy being Britain’s Poet Laureate at the moment, but she still found time to answer our 5 Questions

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5 Questions: Helen Oyeyemi

6 Aug 2009

Give us five words to describe White is for Witching? Quaint, little, antique, quince, spoon. Which authors should be more famous than they are now? Jesse Ball, the consistently amazing Chicago-based poet and novelist. Samedi the Deafness and…

Word Power Book Fringe

6 Aug 2009

Helen FitzGerald (reading Fri 14 Aug) is just one of the great lineup of local and international authors on at our favourite local book shop Word Power’s Book Fringe this year. Other readers include Tom Leonard (Fri 21 Aug), Allan Massie (Thu 13 Aug)…

Words and Pictures

4 Aug 2009

David Peace and Garrison Keillor celebrate fiction and adaptation

Writers David Peace and Garrison Keillor will both be making an appearance at this short season celebrating fiction and adaptation. Peace will be talking about The Red Riding Trilogy and Keillor will be talking about A Prairie Home Companion. There…

Rising Son - David Peace does Japan

13 Jul 2009

British crime writer to discuss his quartet of latest novels

Although generally viewed as one of the most crime-free countries in the developed world, when Japan does crime, its felons certainly step up to the mark. In their back catalogue is the notorious cannibal (is there any other kind?) Issei Sagawa who…

Carol Ann Duffy does it for the kids

13 Jul 2009

The Princess' Blankets mixes verse, music and storytelling

Carol Ann Duffy’s appointment as Poet Laureate earlier this year caused an excited flapping of broadsheet papers, as commentators hailed the first person in that post to be either female, gay or Scottish. All this boundary-smashing seems to promise a…

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All the world’s a stage

15 Sep 2008

Merchant City Festival (25-28 Sep) Located in the heart of old Glasgow, this event locates a programme of film, theatre, comedy, visual arts, street theatre, live music, food and fashion within an area of real…

Beyond the Book Fest

4 Sep 2008

Following their success this summer, The Edinburgh International Book Festival will present a special autumn event with award-winning Australian author David Malouf. Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, his book Remembering Babylon was shortlisted…

Telling stories while we can at The Edinburgh Book Festival

26 Aug 2008

Alan Bissett's festival blog

Today's theme is stories! The ones we tell about ourselves, our past, our bodies. What prompted this was The Fooligan at the Pleasance, a one-man show from the Arches' artist in residence, Al Seed. Al waddles onto the stage, an obese, grotesque medieval…

Bryan Talbot

21 Aug 2008

Graphic detail in the finest strips

Bryan Talbot is a bit of a legend in the UK comics industry. He’s provided art for the likes of 2000AD, Sandman and Batman but you can still see the influence of underground comix artists such as Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton even in his most…

Simon Armitage

21 Aug 2008

Pop poet turns wordy rock star

Simon Armitage is a very modern poet, as happy to ruminate over Arctic Monkeys’ lyrics as he is to translate 14th century romantic poetry. During the 15 years since he handed in his notice as a probation officer to concentrate fully on his writing, he’s…

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5 Questions - Irvine Welsh

21 Aug 2008

Give us five words to describe Crime? Crime is an existential thriller. Which authors should be more famous than they are now? I used to say Ron Butlin, but I think that’s changing now. I think Doug Johnstone will soon be very famous. If I have…

Festival Books - Mark Watson

21 Aug 2008

Eco-friendly, my dear Watson

According to Mark Watson, saving the planet would, at the very least, ‘look pretty smart on all our CVs’. With an already sterling comedy résumé, Watson takes on environmentalism in his latest book, Crap at the Environment, which through the author’s…

Festival Books - Rosemary Goring

21 Aug 2008

The history woman

Rosemary Goring tells Doug Johnstone about finding the voices or ordinary people. There’s been a resurgence of interest in Scottish history among ordinary punters, a trend Scotland: The Autobiography taps into brilliantly. Edited by Rosemary Goring, a…

Andrew Sean Greer

21 Aug 2008

No one can stop his California dreaming

With his recent impressive run in the literary world, it’s hard to imagine Andrew Sean Greer ever feeling edgy about his work. Since the release of critically acclaimed debut The Path Of Minor Planets in 2001, the San Francisco-based scribe has come up…

Kei Miller

21 Aug 2008

Jamaican voice aching to be heard

In a famous sketch by Bill Hicks, the great comedian is stumped by the question, ‘What are you reading for?’ The enquiry – and its correlative, ‘What are you writing for?’ – are deceptively simple. For Kei Miller, the Jamaican-born poet, novelist and…

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Sadie Jones

21 Aug 2008

Orange nominee who won’t stick to the script

‘Not a bad start,’ comes Londoner Sadie Jones’ modest response when she’s reminded of the remarkable success of her debut novel The Outcast – a nominee for the Orange Prize for Fiction and one of 2008’s best sellers to date. ‘I’m just in a constant…

Gordon Burn

21 Aug 2008

Upsetting the traditionalists with novelised news

‘I hate plots. Soon as I know that a film or a book or TV show has a plot, my brain can’t cope with it. If I’m watching a film and I don’t know or have forgotten what the storyline is and I’m supposed to work out who this or that person is, I just fall…

Top 5 - Tories

21 Aug 2008

Rick Wakeman He might be a cast member of the Grumpy Old Men but simply mention the word ‘conservative’ and the Yes man lights up. He even performed a gig in 2004 to raise funds for the party. Rock’n’roll eh? 22 Aug, 6.30pm, £9 (£7). Ffion Hague The…

Kids events

21 Aug 2008

Getting arty and yucky, all in the same week

If you suffer from Crayola on the carpet and finger-painted furniture, The Big Picture Event (24 Aug) should be the destination of choice for your little ‘uns. Chairman and Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen leads an exquisite event of drawing and…

Hardeep Sing Kohli

21 Aug 2008

As multi-tasking multi-media cultural polymaths go, writer, cook, broadcaster, columnist and all-round top bloke Hardeep Singh Kohli is pretty much up there in the can do stakes. Taking a short interlude from waxing lyrical in the papers or throwing in…