Whur’s ma blue face-paint, Moira?

May 31, 2008 | No Comments

Earlier this month, Stuart Kelly, book editor of Scotland on Sunday, wrote a funny and provocative article in the Guardian about us Scots getting way too big in the heid about our literary worthiness compared to the rest of the world. We have become, he writes, “chippy, self-satisfied and insular,” and gives a fairly accurate description of the disease of “cultural cringe.” He argues that we value our literature because we see it as happening against the odds (oh, woe, the poverty, oh, those oppressive English….) , whereas I would argue that the feistiness in Scottish work is directly due to our cultural and political struggles. Kelly worries that we are in danger of writerly over-strut in these post-devolution days, whereas I worry that without something to moan about, we may never produce another word…

Regardless of your point of view on the merits of modern Scottish literature (and I heartily agree with Kelly that grading one cultural output against another is a heap of shitey nonsense), the latest book, Kieran Smith, Boy, by Glasgow literary darling/devil, James Kelman, has received a wonderful review by James Meek in the London Review of Books, (though our US friends will need to wait till November to read it) and perennial sweary favorite, Trainspotting, earns another notch in its lit-crit belt from John Mullen in The Guardian, who dissects Irvine Welsh’s use of dialect. Whur’s ma blue face-paint, Moria? Ah’m comin’ o’er all ballsy again, hen….