In the Summertime
Holiday Reading Recommendations
2022 is the Year of Stories, a year dedicated to Scotland's stories through the themes of Iconic Stories and Storytellers, New Stories, Scotland's People and Places, Local Tales and Legends and Inspired by Nature. And as BooksfromScotland are enjoying the summer sunshine, and the latest summer book releases, we can't but help recommend the books we think you should be putting in your suitcases for your holidays. From fabulous fiction, children's picture books and brilliant poetry to engrossing history, delightful cookery books and inspiring memoir, all the books here are guaranteed to keep you thrilled while you try to keep cool.
Meantime By Frankie Boyle Published by Baskerville
The Black Dog By Kevin Bridges Published by Wildfire
In a publishing climate dominated by celebrity memoirs and political diatribes, you could be forgiven for approaching the debut novels of Frankie Boyle and Kevin Bridges with an air of cynicism. Meantime (Baskerville, July 22) and The Black Dog (Wildfire, August 22), both written during lockdown and published this summer, have been granted pre-ordained status as major literary events thanks to the reputations of the two beloved Scottish comics. Thankfully, neither make any apologies for this, and within just a handful of pages it becomes clear that these stand-up comics are more natural authors than most influencers or stale politicians.
Of course, this should come as no surprise. Since the New Wave in the 1950s and 60s, stand-up comedy has increasingly become a narrative artform anchored by storytelling. The performance of a stand-up comedy routine requires many abilities familiar to the novelist: a sensitive consideration of audience, a sophisticated understanding of structure, and the ability to elicit pathos. More and more comics play with the rules and expectations of the form in a manner reminiscent of post-modern literature, while the authored personas of many comics speak to a deep sensitivity for character and an ability to blur fiction and reality so characteristic of much contemporary fiction. In fact, it’s a wonder more haven’t taken to writing novels.
All of these traits come to the fore in Meantime and The Black Dog, which offer different but equally impressive examples of comic-authored debuts. In Meantime, th...
Extract taken from The Social Distance Between Us By Darren McGarvey Published by Ebury Press
To me, words are like music. When arranged in a particular way, and written or spoken with a certain conviction, an alluring harmony is produced which I find immediately arresting. What is being said, it’s meaning or, indeed, whether I agree or not comes entirely secondary to this initial capture of my fleeting attention. I am often propelled by a sudden, ferocious interest into a particular field of thought or study – not necessarily by a desire to educ...
‘The truth is that structure deserves to be broken and readers are delighted and refreshed when it happens.’
‘The films each chapter are named after were an inspiration. I try to hide a bit of each film in the book for people who have seen those films.’
‘It is a book with grief squat in its belly, but it’s mainly about celebration.’
‘Between mugs of restorative coffee, I turned to what I knew: my own memories of open borders, when I drove a motorbike halfway across the world with my husband.’
‘This was the first time I remember seeing snow in Georgia.’
‘I had long resisted the idea of a novel on the Jacobites. Born in Inverness and brought up in the Highlands, I can’t recall a time when I didn’t know the story of Culloden and its aftermath.’
‘A border is such a simple idea. Step across a line, whether you can see it or not, and you are somewhere else.’
‘The real skill of this memoir is that the reader can see this wider picture even as Millar describes feelings which often might seem to contradict it.’
‘We too thought our contemporaries were doing vital work.’
‘What does it mean to be strong, brave and fearless?’
‘I also held questions about the identities we perhaps each hold in a myriad of ways, and what it means to belong, and, perhaps, what might stop us from belonging.’
‘For many, those railway arches underneath Glasgow’s Central Station will always be synonymous with the best of Scottish arts and culture and what belief, perseverance and a little bit of anarchy can …
‘But reading Lanark while going on these lockdown walks…the city looked completely different. I noticed things I’d never seen before.’
‘Pressure turns carbon into diamonds; given enough time anything can happen.’
‘My nose was long and straight, my dad’s nose, but my smile was terrible, like I’d spotted someone across the room that I had to pretend to be pleased to see.’
‘My husband will eat this in one sitting if I let him.’
‘It is about what I see, what I hear and what I feel as I observe the ever-changing beauty that surrounds us all.’
‘The pain immediately absorbs all my strength and I’m unable to endure it. It’s about to annihilate me when something surges from within my own mind and sucks me into its tiniest corner. A dark, quiet …
‘‘Auld Lang Syne’, now often accounted the second most widely used song globally after ‘Happy Birthday to You’, has a much longer history since it appeared in Robert Burns’ version in 1796.’