erasing clouds

Book Review: Alasdair Gray, The Ends of Our Tethers

by anna battista

Describing himself in the jacket cover of this book as "a fat, spectacled, balding, increasingly old Glaswegian pedestrian who (despite two recent years as Professor of Creative Writing as Glasgow University) has mainly lived by writing and designing eighteen books, most of them fiction", Scottish writer Alasdair Gray makes fun of himself in the same way that he makes fun of his characters and of silly human beings in general in the brilliant anthology of short stories The Ends of Our Tethers.

In "No Bluebeard" a man goes through the story of his three previous marriages before marrying an eccentric woman only to discover that he himself was the reason for the failure of all his loves; in "Job's Skin Game", conceived, as the author explains, when eczema recurred to him after an interval of forty years, a man develops a skin condition after a few tragic events in his life and only lives in the pleasure of scratching himself and classifying the little pieces of epidermis he peels off himself. "Aiblins" is partly based on Gray's experiences as a writer employed at Glasgow University in the late '70s and tells the story of a professor of creative writing psychologically haunted by the poems written by a student whom he considers a failed poet, though, he fears, might be a great poet. Containing also a longer version of an article published on Glasgow's newspaper The Herald in February 2003 in occasion of a march against war on Iraq, The Ends of Our Tethers is a witty and beautiful collection of stories and a must for all Gray's fans.


Issue 17, November 2003

this month's issue
about erasing clouds

Copyright (c) 2005 erasing clouds