An Anthology of New Scottish Writing
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 Stories by six young writers, the cream of the contemporary Scottish Beats crop, are anthologized here in a raw display of life on the edge. An excerpt from a 1991 novel by Alan Warner, here titled ``After the Vision,'' is the most successful of the lot, describing one man's long voyage home after a rave, a journey that touches bottom when he meets a long-lost mate who enthuses over his job at a crematorium, then begins slowly to rise when he meets two women who take him to their friend, who in turn offers him a couch for a much-needed night's sleep. Also funny and compelling is ``The Brown Pint of Courage,'' by James Meek, in which three bottom-rung members of Edinburgh's parking police force indulge in mayhem and coercion on the job--one even falling in love on his lunch break with a woman who shares his passion for Thomas Carlyle--before the good times come to an end in spectacular fashion. Other interesting stories by Laura J. Hird and Paul Reekie involve a teacher's nightlong seduction of his 16-year-old student, which doesn't go quite as he planned (``The Dilating Pupil''), and a chronicle of a generation finding its way in the world, narrated by a man recovering from burns received while sitting on a toilet that ignited (``Submission''). The most touted piece here, however, proves disappointing: Irvine Welsh's sci-fi spoof involving aliens and their command of Scots English (``The Rosewell Incident''), has a few laughs but not much else. The vision of Scottish life created by these six voices is remarkably consistent, vital, and unyieldingly tough-minded, but it's too early to say if these promising young writers will mature into major ones, or if they'll gain much of a foothold on these shores.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1997
ISBN: 0-87951-775-1
Page count: 236pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1997