Chiara Bullen’s October edition of BookSpace reviews some of the latest Scottish literary productions
THE nights are longer, the days are wetter and the temptation to curl up with a good book whilst the rain rages outside is never stronger than in November. Scottish publishers are the ultimate enablers for that temptation this autumn, releasing a wide variety of titles to warm you up and get you through the dreich weather.
The German Room, Carla Maliandi (translated by Frances Riddle)
Fiction | Charco Press | £9.99 | Buy Here
“A young woman travels from Argentina to Germany trapped by emotional conflicts. When she arrives, she is constantly exposed to all kinds of adventures and incidents, some funny, others tragic. She never fully understands her situation. Instead of learning from her circumstances and moving on, she gropes around, perplexed by the reality around her, hesitating as to what to do next.”
The German Room explores the modern-day realities and consequences of the much-fantasied jumping on a plane to escape your problems. Maliandi laces these pages with sorrowful yet beautiful prose, poignant characters and relationships hanging heavy with grief and ‘what could-have-been’. Melancholic and haunting, this short read is perfect for those curious about events that transpire after leaving everything behind, from the dizzying liberation to the fear of those beckoning you to return home. Film rights have been sold to the award-winning filmmaker Dieogo Lerman — well worth picking up to see what all the fuss is about.
The Art of Coorie, Gabriella Bennett
Non-Fiction | Black and White Publishing | £14.99 | Buy Here
“Coorie – or còsagach in Gaelic – is the Scottish version of hygge. In The Art Of Coorie, Times journalist Gabriella Bennett explores what coorie is and how it has helped nurture the astonishing creativity that Scotland is famed for, despite an often harsh and unforgiving climate.”
When I heard a few months ago that ‘Coorie’ was to become the new lifestyle trend (following hot on the trails of Hygge and Lagom) with Scottish roots, I’ll admit I was a little sceptical. However, within a few pages of Gabriella Bennett’s interpretation of the word ‘Coorie’ I was pleasantly surprised and instantly sold. Coorie is a lifestyle that involves being contented with what is around you — how to make do with what we have, against challenging elements and how to slow down a little. The content is delightfully accessible, with many of the lifestyle suggestions offering financially-doable changes (flavour your food with pine-needles or ditch those expensive facemasks for Scottish oats and honey). If you plan to ‘coorie in’ (sorry!) with a good book this November, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Beautiful Country Burn Again: Trump’s Rise to Power, and the State of the Country that Voted for Him, Ben Fountain
Non-Fiction | Canongate | £12.99 | Buy Here
“As Ben Fountain sees it, the United States is facing its third existential crisis. The first was the struggle over slavery, culminating in the Civil War. The second was the Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialised world, which brought about the New Deal. The third, is Donald Trump. But how will it end?”
Amongst the whirlwind of anger, hurt and frustration about the man currently sitting pride of place in the White House, many of us find ourselves asking — how? Ben Fountain attempts to answer this question in his scathing re-telling of the 2016 Presidential campaign trail. Fountain’s sharp-eye for blunders and his witty observations are just as likely to make you laugh as they are to make you gasp in horror. Each essay is preceded by an account of global events around the world, brilliantly contextualising the absurd events transpiring in American politics alongside them. An accessible (and urgent) read for those who might otherwise not know where to start when considering the current state of American politics.
Crocodile, Daniel Shand
Fiction | Sandstone Press | £8.99 | Buy Here
“It’s the summer before high school and Chloe’s been sent to her grandparents because her mother can’t cope. At first, all Chloe wants is to go home, but when she falls in with a feral gang of local boys, life takes a darker turn. By the time summer ends, Chloe will have learned where the greater danger lies.”
Crocodile is a heart-breaking account of the dangerous and devastating world that vulnerable children are often thrown into. Shand doesn’t pull his punches when delivering the gradually shattering childhood of his young protagonist; the erratic, childish and unreliable narration delivering blows that remain with you long after you’ve put the book down. The characters are painfully and purposefully full of hidden depth and secrets, and you’ll find your heart aching for each one of them.
Here We Fucking Go, Chris McQueer
Short Stories | 404Ink | £8.99 | Buy Here
“Here We F**king Go (HWFG) is the much-anticipated follow up to Chris McQueer’s hilarious, award-winning debut short story collection Hings”
McQueer is back at his best with HWFG — a collection of absolutely wild short stories, ranging from the musings of those on the fringes of working-class society to a sociopathic moth. Strange, surreal and satiric, McQueer’s stories are bursting at the seams with originality and come sealed with a guarantee that you won’t find anything like them elsewhere. Fan favourites from McQueer’s debut short story collection Hings make much-welcomed returns and Scots remains the language of choice for the majority of the tales. No for the twee or faint-hearted.
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