Alasdair Gray is dead, alas …

Alasdair Gray, Alasdair Gray, b. 1935. Novelist (Self-portrait)

It was another one of those dead men, Anthony Burgess, who recommended Lanark to me. Not me personally, but through his book, Ninety-Nine Novels. Burgess was of course just one of many hundreds of people with whom I held conversations in my head, given the number of his books I read back then, one of my imaginary friends whom I am sure would not have been a friend in real life, but that is another story. Flicking through the pages of 99 now, I see a few books I have read, but Lanark may have been the only one that I read as a result of 99.

Thank you to my friend Stephen for standing in a line in Scotland to obtain both “Ten Tales Tall & True”, and this inscription, for me.

“A big and original novel has at last come out of Scotland,” wrote Burgess, so why would I not track it down? Oh Anthomny, you had me at “A”. “… it was time Scotland produced a shaterring work of fiction in the modern idiom”. This led me to read Gray, and James Kelman, and Carl MacDougall and …

In the days before Abebooks and Amazon, it was a highlight of a holiday to Scotland to find a copy of his “Why Scots should rule Scotland”. To the delight of my wife, I am sure, I found other things as well, as you can see below. (At least, she says, if we get separated, I always know that I will find you in the nearest bookshop.)

Image result for shane macgowan church of the holy spook
And the next year I tracked down this for him in return …

I am no critic, I don’t have the words. I read him, I enjoyed him, he made me think. I liked his art, and the design of his books. We have a space on a wall where we would hang an original painting, if we owned such a thing. I always thought that an Alasdair Gray would look good there, watching us as we watched TV, as climbed the stairs, as we tottered off to bed …

Fortunately, other people have words …

Frightening and downright filthy: why everyone must read Alasdair Gray

Alasdair Gray obituary

Official website


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