Monday, September 03, 2007

The Life and Times of Alasdair Gray (so far)

Alasdair Gray 0-70, a 25-minute documentary made by Kevin Cameron for the BBC in 2004:

Part One (Early Life & "the possibilities of delight and horror")

Part Two (Art School & the idea of "a fantastic modern Divine Comedy or Pilgrim's Progress, without the religion")

Part Three (Teaching, the dole & "a formidable Danish teenager who accepted my clumsy wooing")

Part Four (Lanark)

Part Five (1982 Janine & the Oran Mor ceiling)

- From Gray's storyboard for a projected film version of

Lanark: A Life in Four Books:


  1. thanks for that...."a book that contained everything I knew about life". I really have to read this finally.

  2. You're welcome, Colonel. The actual quote is: "I meant it to be an encyclopaedia of a book that would show everything I knew about life, or had heard about life, and blend it into one single tale."

    A typical Grayism, that qualification. There's a calculated (considered, weighed, and then approved) honesty about the guy that can be both charming and disconcerting. I've heard him accused of being faux-naif, but that's not it. He's just very consciously sceptical of power, including his own.

    From the BBC Omnibus interview in 1982:

    "When somebody asks you to describe your book Lanark, what do you say?"

    "I say: 'It is a Scottish petty-bourgeois model of the universe.'"

    [a slightly nonplussed pause]

    "Just like that?"

    "Yes. I've rehearsed it and honed it down to as few words as possible."

    (I also liked: "So you're a coward?" "Oh yes.")

  3. And, from the 1963 Monitor interview:

    "I don't for instance talk like this with friends, I don't talk like this with my wife, I don't even talk like this with strangers. This is how I talk with a television-machine."

    Sceptical of power, sceptical of artifice, sceptical of his own ego and others'. And sceptical of the television-machine, even in 1963.