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3 August 1995
So I Am Glad 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 280 pp., £9.99, May 1995, 0 224 03974 1
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Now That You’re Back 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Vintage, 248 pp., £5.99, May 1995, 0 09 945711 3
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... One of the most convincing inclusions in Granta’s list of the 20 best young British novelists, A.L. Kennedy has composed a distinctive voice out of youth and national identity. She was born in Dundee, and now lives in Glasgow; Scottishness informs her fiction. This is partly a matter of a characteristic introspection, the tradition of spiritual autobiography that generated the novel in the first place and has never, in the hard climate of Scotland, quite lost its original impetus: Little comes more naturally to me and my kind than guilt ...

We stop the words

David Craig: A.L. Kennedy

16 September 1999
Everything you need 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 567 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 224 04433 8
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... Near the start of A.L. Kennedy’s latest novel, its chief character and overriding consciousness, Nathan Staples, a successful writer of horror fiction, emerges slowly from a bout of compulsive masochistic fantasies, puts Glenn Gould on his CD player, and gets ready to hang himself from an iron hook in the central beam of his cottage, or almost hang himself – well, just enough to give himself ‘that big, blank, hot-mouthing, hair-lifting, sexy, sexy fear that he only ever met at times like this ...
21 August 1997
God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... Younger Scottish writers seem to be preoccupied by gender. It is a theme crucial equally to Duncan McLean’s novel Bunker Man and to Kathleen Jamie’s poetry collection The Queen of Sheba. It is insistent in W.N. Herbert’s poem ‘Featherhood’ and Janice Galloway’s Foreign Parts ...

‘I’m trying for you’

A.L. Kennedy: Gitta Sereny

18 June 1998
Cries Unheard 
by Gitta Sereny.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 333 73524 2
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... warning. The older girl was acquitted of both charges. Nevertheless, this pretty and patently likeable child was revealed as more than a passive bystander at one murder and a participant in a chain of other destructive, if not sadistic, acts. The younger girl, Mary Bell, was equally pretty but eerily self-controlled and ...

Intimate Strangers

Thomas Jones: A.L. Kennedy’s new novel

7 October 2004
Paradise 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 344 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 0 224 06258 1
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... Her name is Hannah Luckraft, and she is an alcoholic. Not that the narrator of A.L. Kennedy’s latest novel would ever tell you that herself. This isn’t because she’s in denial about her drinking – much of the time she finds it quite hard to think or talk about anything else – or the damage it causes, but because she isn’t in the habit of stating things so baldly ...
8 July 1993
Swing Hammer Swing! 
by Jeff Torrington.
Secker, 416 pp., £8.99, August 1992, 0 436 53120 8
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Looking for the Possible Dance 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 436 23321 5
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The Lights Below 
by Carl MacDougall</a>.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 9780436270796
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... Something really weird was happening in the Gorbals.’ The opening sentence of Swing Hammer Swing!, Jeff Torrington’s great, boisterous first novel, might serve as a headline announcing his Whitbread Book of the Year Award (‘Literary Outsider wins Whitbread’, ‘Triumph of Thirty-Year Novel’, ‘Jeff’s in the Swing’), or herald more widely Glasgow’s extraordinary swell of literary talent ...

Heiling Hitler

Geoffrey Best: Churchill, Hitler and the ‘Times’

21 June 2001
The ‘Times’ and Appeasement: The Journals of A.L. Kennedy 1932-39 
Cambridge, 312 pp., £40, March 2001, 0 521 79354 8Show More
Churchill and Appeasement 
by R.A.C. Parker.
Papermac, 290 pp., £12.99, May 2001, 0 333 67584 3
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... those historical topics that are dead but won’t lie down. The supply of relevant facts has virtually dried up. But what to make of them – including as facts, the mentalities, opinions and purposes of those involved – and how to interpret the various words and deeds, remains a minefield of protected positions and sensitive tripwires. The argument began ...

Looking for Augustine

James Francken: Jonathan Safran Froer

25 July 2002
Everything Is Illuminated 
by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Hamish Hamilton, 276 pp., £14.99, June 2002, 0 241 14166 4
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... Advertising campaigns for new books have changed their well-established patterns, bringing the old ways of the marketplace up to date. Publishers are using the Internet to drum up business; authors have created websites that give themselves a plug. But some authors seem nonplussed by the need for all this self-promotion, distrusting the visitors their sites may attract ...

Diary

Jenny Turner: ‘T2 Trainspotting’

16 February 2017
... son?’ he says in a wavery wee voice, the voice of a man who has never been anywhere near a drama lesson ever. He’s almost corpsing into the camera, he’s enjoying himself so much. T2 Trainspotting does the trick Danny Boyle did with the London Olympics ceremony, reflecting its audience straight back on itself, only bigger and nicer and much, much ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy

16 November 2017
... Last December​ , in Russia for the first time, I saw a small panel painting in the Hermitage showing The Vision of St Augustine: the saint, in full episcopal fig, is sitting on a riverbank near a child who is scooping up water with a spoon and pouring it into a hole in the sand. According to the story, which is usually set on a beach, the saint is asking the little boy what he thinks he’s up to; to which the child replies that he’s trying to empty the sea into the hole ...

In Bloody Orkney

Robert Crawford: George Mackay Brown

22 February 2007
George Mackay Brown: The Life 
by Maggie Fergusson.
Murray, 363 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 7195 5659 7
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The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown 
edited by Brian Murray.
Murray, 547 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7195 6884 6
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... can be quickened by listening to other tongues, yet it is almost unknown for a poet to settle in a language – as distinct from an accent – learned after childhood. Only a few remarkable people have written with distinction in a language that was not their first. Native language ...

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