Every Short Story (1951-2012) by Alasdair Gray
Canongate Books Ltd 2012 – 934 pages



9 responses to “*

  1. Near the Driver
    Big business compared to “the skilled artisan class”, like train drivers, especially in the days of steam. This is effectively a steam book, with real paper and text, not those ebooks that are controlled from elsewhere. I like being near the driver, that’s the same as saying being near the author… And I feel safer there, despite his feisty reputation and the pictures of demons scattered in this real steambook treebook. This story he manages the reader to travel is a mixture of nostalgia for old trains with leather tongues on their doors – and it is also a delightfully vicious satire on the new internet age before the Internet came, almost an SF fantasy here with control from elsewhere and accidents not waiting to happen but almost designed to happen despite the wisdom of children like Patsy. The new Axletreebook on track. Every substation manned by bears? And the centred text poignantly starts an explosion but fails to finish it, except with the drawing of an exploding train transmuted into a snake on the opposite page?

  2. Property
    Camping as staking a claim, or a claim staking you. In the early 1960s, as now, property was a Fat King marking property deeds. More of AG’s salt of the earth folk scuppered. Made me feel like crying.

  3. Pillow Talk
    Marital arts by inferred email.

  4. My Ex Husband
    “Chicken Soup, made by boiling a chicken in water with salt but nothing else.”
    …seems to symbolise this poor woman’s marriage. I don’t think I have ever read such a pitiful account. Seriously. Only literature, like these three flash fictions just read, can give you experiences you would never want to have for real. Not even the title at the beginning makes this one have an ending that is happy…

  5. Bluebeard
    A substantive story that seems to use the previous three vignellarettes as a deadpan overture. There is something King Cnut about this man (autobiographically the author?) as he stands alone against the one word form of Tourette’s syndrome of his wife no. 4 and against the tidal onset of all three previous numbered wives. Deadpan, poignant, aggressive-passive…
    No. 4 is an ‘eccentric aristocrat’ and I wondered at first if this was Harry-Harriet. But No. 1 was the most intriguing for me with her wartime/1950s type housewifely insistence, blue-white sheets billowing in the Monday morning sunshine et al, with all this book’s challenge and response of quantitative easing and working-class graft.
    This story has succeeded where all others in my life have failed inasmuch as it made me visualise myself as an inhabitant of its fiction with all my ageing idiosyncrasies – deadpan, poignant, passive-aggressive – particularly after 44 years so far with Wife No.1. With eclectic elements of all four wives in this ‘story’.

  6. Big Pockets With Buttoned Flaps
    In a strange way, this is sort of my favourite story so far. It is some come-uppance on the modern strictures of health and safety, where the male teacher as predator is predatored upon – and the twist at the end is masterful. Coolly passive-aggressive.

  7. Aiblins
    “But I want to point out that these are the first poems of a very young writer, someone who is (please excuse the expression) like a bird flapping its wings to attract attention before launching into the air.”
    Luke Aiblins will eventually go down in history as the writer of most of the best poems that famous poets now write but unconsciously plagiarised from Luke. You heard it here first. Not Jungian connections so much as radiations – by some version of this book’s cross electric-wiring of some conspiratorial public broadcasting interference – of poems from this book’s Eastern Empire.
    Meanwhile, this now becomes my favourite story so far where, like in the previous favourite story read just a few minutes ago, young and old become again each other’s predator, here predator poets, each pickpocketing the giant pockets of the other. Moral: your best work is your first work or otherwise it will become your only work and one that nobody ever reads.
    I wonder if this work is autobiographical and if its list of those budding writers represent people who still exist. I perhaps was one of them. Just google my name and see.
    “Perhaps most plagiarism is unconscious reminiscence.”

  8. This review will now continue HERE

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