August is the month where Edinburgh invites the world to the biggest party there is! Visitors and locals are spoiled with all kinds of entertainment, and BooksfromScotland are joining in with this month's issue, celebrating the city with some excellent new fiction, poetry, art and social commentary. And if you like your pleasures outside of the festival madness we've got some food, drink and nature to keep you going too.
Constitution Street: Finding Hope in the Age of Anxiety By Jemma Neville Published by 404 Ink
If anyone has a year or three to spare to write it, here’s a great idea for a book, and I’ll give it to you for free. It’s very specific, because it’s about just one street in Edinburgh, the people who have lived there in the past and those who live there now. And before you can say, ‘Why should I care about that if I don’t live there?’ – let me tell you.
I’m talking about the Cowgate. Why? Because it’s got everything and been everything. Back in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this was where you wanted to live if you were, say, an ambassador to the Scottish court or a high-ranking courtier in it. Yet in the nineteenth, it was an overcrowded and mainly Irish slum, the place revolutionary socialist James Connolly called home. ‘To look over the South Bridge and see the Cowgate below full of crying hawkers,’ wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘is to view one rank of society from another in the twinkling of an eye.’
Exactly. But rather than do the usual riff on that quote – you know, divided city, Jekyll and Hyde, Caledonian antisyzygy, yadiyahiyah, let’s imagine someone else leaning over South Bridge and looking down. Someone who, as far as I know, never even visited Edinburgh in the first place.
Let’s imagine that the great American oral historian Studs Terkel (1912-2008) not only came back from the dead but to Scotland’s capital too and that he also took in that very same view from South Bridge. Right now, in the middle of the Festival, th...
Extract taken from I Want to be a Machine: Warhol and Paolozzi By Keith Hartley Published by the National Galleries of Scotland Publishing
‘He had only come to appreciate how much he missed Edinburgh once he had committed to return, and if he had doubts as to the wisdom of his decision, they were blown away like steam as his eyes lit upo …
‘The taste was and is exquisite, unlike any other honeys I have tasted. Nuanced and floral, the texture is rich, creamy and unctuous. I was hooked over breakfast and could not wait to find out more ab …
‘She makes paintings that are not only rigorous but also beautiful, bringing attention to the act of looking at art and at the world around us’
‘She had nothing to drag her out of bed in the morning, and, therefore, like a sensible woman, she breakfasted late.’
‘Recruiters know you are flawed—no one is perfect, after all—and making things up is an important part of showing a human touch’
‘Mum didn’t live to see the height of my success, but she saw the depths of my personal failings. As did Ben. Whenever I was in his presence my achievements became as weightless as air and my determin …
‘Cuthbert himself would probably be bemused that anyone should want to follow in his footsteps literally, like the page boy in Good King Wenceslas’