Alasdair Gray

Biting Tails

I recently discussed Alasdair Gray's fiction with someone who had contemplated doing a parody of Lanark for NaNoWriMo. I countered that Gray does such a fine job of parodying and plagiarising himself that it would be a moot exercise. 1982, Janine and Something Leather can be read as the latter parodying the former. Within Lanark itself you get the A-Z Of Plagiarisms which in itself is a parody. Would it be possible to write (fan)fiction about a body of work which is already plagiarising and fictionalising itself? So, to my mind, the solution would be to write an article called "The Resistance of Parody - Alasdair Gray, Bakhtin and the impossibility of Fanfiction" and what a very amusing writing exercise that would be. Not quite a novel, of course, but I might get cracking on that during November.

PS. There's a reason why this blog entry will be filled under "humour"

Life's A Cabaret, Old Chum

Some time ago my partner, David, bought us tickets for the one-year anniversary of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School - a burlesque-meets-art school monthly event. David and a pirate had attended a previous Dr. Sketchy's and loved it.

What happened? A lot, I tell you. I sang along to Cole Porter songs and my partner produced this:

Some of you might know that in my former life as a quasi-academic, I worked and published on Alasdair Gray, the writer and the writer-artist. Who would have thought I'd end up sitting next to him at a burlesque-meets-art school event? Or that David would think it funny to draw Ally Gray and have him sign the drawing? It beats my signed first edition hands down, damn him.

Another boon was that the founder of Dr. Sketchy, the very lovely Molly Crabapple (NSWF, possibly) was present as well. I've long nourished a minor internet crush on her and her illustrations. Sigh. And we absolutely loved Kitten on the Keys (quite NSFW) and David drew yet another fabulous portrait. I'd post it but it'd completely ruin his ego.

Mmm.. I'll be humming Cole Porter songs in my sleep, methinks.

Back To Books

I may have injured my wrist through too much knitting. Yes. Really. I'm going to see my doctor tomorrow for my usual 'why do I keep keeling over, Doctor McKay?' thing and might just ask him about my poor overworked wrists. I suspect the answer may be to lay off with the knitting for some time. At least that will give me time to finish various reads.

I'm currently halfway through Iain Pears' An Instance of the Fingerpost which reads like a mix between early Julian Barnes and Umberto Eco with a dash of classic whodunnit. David gave up on the book after about 200 pages but I find myself enjoying its slow pace, Pears' knowledge of 17th century science (unlike, say, Ross King whose Ex Libris was so, so, so inaccurate that it nearly made me cry) and the novel's multi-narrative structure. My partner bought Pears' The Immaculate Deception from Oxfam Books yesterday. It looks to be a light read, though. I might keep that for winter. I tend towards light books during the dark months.

Also on the backburner: Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. Back when I was in the process of moving countries, I read her Gilead. It floored me with its precise language, its exploration of 'home' and 'family' and the slow, deliberate move towards its dénouement. At that point of time, I was living out of a suitcase whilst spending nights on friends' sofas. I was susceptible to Gilead, in other words. Robinson's Housekeeping is bleaker and I cannot quite muster the calmness that her novel demands. I still adore her way of using language though.

And then there are the books which have suffered. Maps For Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam and Old Men In Love by my beloved Alasdair Gray (signed 1st Ed - I should scan the dedication). They're on my bedside table and deserve far more attention.

If everything else fails, of course, there's always my growing stack of knitting books..


Stephen Moffat does write the best Doctor Who episodes. A planet which is one giant library? Yes, please! And that is all I will say as I do not want to give away any spoilers.. Now, as some longterm readers/friends may know, I'm absolutely obsessed by paratexts and paratextuality: tables of content, indices, illustrations, prefaces, typefaces, paper textures etc. Everything that makes a text a book, basically. I have found an absolute gem: A Book of Tables of Content. You can see a slideshow at the site and there is even a Flickr group where you can upload your own favourite Table of Content. Personally I have a thing about the ToC in Iain Banks' The Bridge (my favourite Banks novel, by the way). The novel takes place on the Firth of Forth Bridge and if you turn the ToC ninety degrees, it actually takes on the shape of that particular bridge. Nifty.

Finally, a very, very cool/scary photo of when volcanoes spew lightning.

PS. I have finished my first sweater and I'm very proud

No Electricity, But Much Excitement

We went to the hospital today for a long-awaited appointment. I have been undergoing epilepsy tests but they came out negative. No abnormal electrical currents or any abnormal brain structures - I'm relieved that I'm not dying of a brain tumour and I'm frustrated that I could not get a clear, concise answer to wtf is going on with me today. We're off to see my GP to find out what is next. Exciting times.

So, a compensation I was allowed to buy three skeins of very, fabulous, very expensive yarn. I am not sure if it is entirely healthy (for my bank account or my partner's sanity) to both suffer from bibliophilia and, er, yarn-philia?

Speaking of bibliophilia, one of my major interests is artists' books: the idea that the book is more than just a transparent medium but actually plays a major part in our understanding of texts (and thus the world) is very, very appealing to me. This year's Glasgow's International Art Festival caters to this interest of mine with the Glasgow International Artists Bookfair. It'll feature all sorts of books about books as well as actual artists' books and workshops on bookbinding etc. I'm so there. No surprise that I will also be found here looking very excited at this exhibition.

Glasgow is good to me.

Words Against War

Sundays in February can be quite dreary - so why not dash into Mono here in Glasgow on Sunday at 8pm? Famous Scottish writers such as Alasdair Gray(!), Liz Lochhead, and Tom Leonard will be discussing the war in Iraq. As Mono also houses a record shop/informal gig venue, there will also be live music from local folk artists. Ticket is £5.

(An aside: last time I went to Mono, I ended up having dinner right next to a famous rock star, my word. And my vegan lasagna was rather bland.)