Sunday, 21 September 2014

A young woman asks Alasdair Gray about his novel "Lanark" : the trauchle of supporting Dundee FC and other major causes

When the outcome of a major or minor event is something that doesn't please you, for example, like  the result of a football match today at Dens Park,  Dundee 1 Dundee United 4,  it is tempting to analyse and rationalise it until the will to live is lost.  It can be a right trauchle. It exhausts the mental substance.  Having attended an event at the Edinburgh Book Festival in Charlotte Square this August past, I have moved towards persuading myself that I am cured of this affliction.

After giving some readings at the festival from Of Me and Others : An Autobiography, a book he says is the nearest he'll ever get to writing an autobiography,  the Scottish literary and artistic phenomenon that is Alasdair Gray was told by a 16 years old voter and school student in the audience that she and her fellow students had been asked to read and study his novel, Lanark for their Scottish Highers examination at school. She wondered what he thought about that.

Alasdair Gray said that he had been shocked to hear that school students should be asked to study his books. He feared that if children had to study them in an academic and analytic way as they did Shakespeare they would come to hate him just as they hated Shakespeare. Before you start throwing literary bricks at me, I hasten to add that I gained the impression he was making a statement about the way literature is taught rather than denying the merits of the English bard. He said that he just wanted people to read his books and enjoy them  -  nothing more.

He asked his questioner if she had enjoyed his book.  She said she had. That pleased him.

From this, for the time being, I have concluded that you either like a book or you don't like a book. If you fail to find favour in one, before wasting any time on reflection,  move on swiftly and read another in the hope that it will be better. This may also be true for other events in life.

I'll be picking up my next book soon. Dundee play Dundee United in the Scottish League Cup at Tannadice  on Wednesday night.
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