Potpourri (unscented)

  • The weather forecaster(s) who predicted a lot of north Georgia snow yesterday were wrong–not that I’m complaining. There were a few flakes around, mostly two-legged.
  • Those who know a cat has adopted us want us to name it. Look, we’re already feeding him and trying to keep him warm. We’ve referring to him as OC (outside kitty) but people want something better.
  • My former publisher Vanilla Heart Publishing has closed due to health problems of the owner. 
  • I was happy to see that one of the first things President Biden said he wanted to achieve was unity. I hope he can do this and that the unity includes voters from all parts of the political spectrum–because if it doesn’t, we won’t really have unity will we?
  • This is not a good time to live in Texas or have anything to do with managing the state’s power grid.
  • Gosh, all the old “What’s My Line” shows are available to YouTube. Fun to see a few of them again after all these years.
  • As I discovered with “tennis shoes” some years ago, expensive hearing aids don’t last any longer than cheap hearing aids. So, I ordered another pair of the cheap ones and am happy to say I can hear what my wife’s talking about.
  • Rush Limbaugh has died. I never listened to his radio program because I didn’t agree with him. Yet, I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone.
  • I keep wondering why my top post is an old one about graveyard dirt.  If you need to ask me about it, you’re probably going to get hurt. Just saying.
  • Serena Williams’ last tennis match aired at 3:00 a.m. No, I didn’t stay up to watch it. I do intend to watch her Australian Open match tonight against Osaka at 10:00 p.m.

  • I continue to work on my next novel, Weeping Wall, set in Glacier National Park. I seem to be writing slower than ever. Most be getting old.
  • Next week, I’ll be getting my semiannual anti-cancer shot. I don’t like the fact that it causes random hot flashes. Oh boy, I can hardly wait.
  • I’m currently reading a David Baldacci novel to take a break from Shuggie Bain which, though it’s well written, is filled with people who are messed up.

Malcolm

Notions on reading ‘Shuggie Bain’

My ancestry is mostly Scottish, instilled in me at an early age by my father and the books I found on our shelves when I was young. I am surprised, though, at my comfort level in reading Scots and how soon after reading a book written in Scots my speech takes on that unmistakable lilt. It’s somewhat embarrassing actually because people think I’m putting on airs.

I have argued for years with authors writing about highlanders who are presented as speaking Scots, a lowland language, rather than Highland English which is influenced by Gaelic. It comes down to the notion, I think, that Americans think all Scots speak the language of the lowlands but exhibit the fiery passion of the Highlanders which, some say, is characterized by sex, fighting, and drinking.

Shuggie Bain, the Booker Prize-winning novel by Douglas Stuart, is altogether another tin o’ worms. If you’re planning on visiting Glasgow, I urge you to read this book first so you’ll be used to not only the profanity of choice but Glaswegian often called “Glasgow Patter.” If you have trouble with it, consult 100 Glaswegian words that prove you are from Glasgow.

The article notes that Glasgow patter is a language of the streets, and that’s certainly true of the characters, speech, and lifestyles you’ll find in Shuggie Bain. In “real life”–unless we travelled to Glasgow and ended up in the “wrong” part of town–most of us would never meet such people, forget wanting to know them better, much share a strong lager with them.

Critics have called the novel “dark” and they are right. They’ve also called in a masterpiece, and the farther I read, the more I’m convinced they’re right about that, too. I have always thought that the Brits, in general, are a lot more earthy than Americans–perhaps demonstrated in such common expressions as “oh bugger” and “sod off” that we wend to avoid on this side of the pond. This earthy tone is clearly prevalent in the novel and would be viewed in the States as over-the-top chauvinistic, if not misogynistic.

But the writer in me wants to know what makes this novel a masterpiece and what motivates its characters. So I will continue, often with a smile at some of the things people say and do, to keep reading even though I might be totally scunnered by the time I get to the last page.

Is anyone else here reading the book yet?

Malcolm