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1980s British pop - The ideological and musical battles of the decade we can't seem to recover from

16 Jul 2013

As Tracey Thorn and John Taylor hit the Edinburgh Book Festival, Alan Bissett explores 80s pop music

Where the case is more clear for other decades of British pop glory – leaping with Beatles, Bolans and Blurs – the jury’s still very much out on the 80s. When American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman dismisses Peter Gabriel’s Genesis (‘too artsy’) in favour of…

Glyn Dillon set for appearance at 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival

16 Jul 2013

The writer/artist returns to the graphic novel medium with a bang

The Nao of Brown is a gorgeous, big, chunky, stunning graphic novel. It’s also a deep and evocative portrayal of a young girl’s battle with OCD as she fights against her own fears, damping down the vicious and violent urges that bubble up within her…

James Lasdun to appear at 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival

16 Jul 2013

Renowned author on internet abuse and being on the receiving end of cyber stalking

For most of the last ten years, James Lasdun has logged on to his computer with emotions alternating between hesitation and fear. The object of an internet stalker who has variously attempted to ruin his reputation by publicising false rumours, spread…

Comics and graphic novel highlight at the Stripped strand of the Edinburgh Book Festival

16 Jul 2013

Hannah Berry, Stephen Collins, Posy Simmonds and Gareth Brookes among highlights

Hannah Berry. Writer/artist Berry’s first graphic novel, Britten and Brülightly, was a dark whodunit which she followed up with Adamtime, a horror tale packed with mystery. Her stark style is complemented by black and white art for a grim, noir world…

Strong food theme at 2013 North Berwick festival Fringe by the Sea

16 Jul 2013

Chef Neil Forbes, Moroccan cuisine and Belhaven Brewery set for town's harbour

The ice-cream cones on the front cover of Fringe By The Sea’s programme are the first hint at this year’s strong food theme. Besides the always-tempting option of braving the gallus seagulls of East Lothian, going al fresco and taking fish and chips…

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Further Edinburgh festivals you might not have heard of

16 Jul 2013

Forest Fringe, JUST Festival and the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival. Zipping in and out before August has arrived, the Fashion Festival aims to build on a cracking 2012 debut. Among the names and organisations featured are Clements Ribeiro, Amanda Harlech, Bella Freud, National…

Programme highlights from the 2013 Edinburgh Book festival

16 Jul 2013

Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Coe and Alexander McCall Smith among guests at EIBF

Salman Rushdie. One of the original Best of Young British Novelists reflects on a golden career marred by that fatwa. Margaret Atwood. We’re spoilt for choice by the Canadian this year as she chats variously about The Blind Assassin, Scottish horror and…

Provocateur author highlights at the 2013 Edinburgh International Book Festival

16 Jul 2013

Laurie Penny, Shereen el Feki, John Gray among those who might ruffle some feathers during EIBF

Laurie Penny. Describing herself as ‘young, angry and progressive’, Penny has ruffled some feathers. But can 67,000 Twitter followers be wrong? Shereen el Feki. While researching Sex and the Citadel, el Feki travelled from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and…

Arne Dahl and Alex Gray discuss Nordic noir at 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival

15 Jul 2013

Writers discuss Intercrime and The Swedish Girl

The Nordic noir phenomenon continues apace and Arne Dahl (AKA author and critic Jan Arnald) is leading the way with a series of novels which were recently adapted and shown on BBC Four. On stage to discuss his Intercrime series, he is joined by Scottish…

Top 5: Books that inspired songs

11 Jul 2013

Books that have inspired songs, including Perfume, Ghost World, Pale Fire and Paradise Lost

When Oasis broke down en route to T in the Park, the AA offered Noel Gallagher space for two people in their van – he took Simon Mason, the 'Rock 'N' Roll Doctor', and left the rest of the band stranded on the hard shoulder. Bruvs before drugs, Noel. To…

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Ben Brooks - Lolito

11 Jul 20134 stars

A charming exploration of love by witty authentic teenage voice

If you enjoyed Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you’ll love this latest novel by Ben Brooks. An unconventional love story that is both twisted and tender, centring on…

Patti Smith set for Edinburgh and Glasgow dates in 2013

11 Jul 2013

The punk poet shows no signs of slowing

At 66, Patti Smith is entering the twilight of her career with an energy and passion for the creative process that feels remarkably fresh and vital. Whether as poet, writer, photographer, activist or musician, she continues to produce a body of work…

Glasgow Comic Con 2013 celebrates films, comics and fandom

11 Jul 2013

Convention guests include Alan Davis, Alan Grant, John Higgins, Carlos Ezqurra and Rufus Dayglo

Glasgow is set to be the scene of the battle of the comic conventions. The contenders are the three-year-old Glasgow Comic Con, on this month, (CCA, Sat 13--Sun 14 Jul) and the in-no-way-affiliated inaugural MCM Expo Scotland Comic Con (SECC, Sat 7…

Rawi Hage - Carnival

11 Jul 20134 stars

Violently Chaotic yet warm and funny novel by award winning Lebanese-Canadian author

With his IMPAC Award-winning debut, De Niro’s Game, Rawi Hage was marked as one of Canada’s most exciting new writers. His third novel, Carnival, is just as thrilling. Fly, the narrator, is a bibliophile taxi driver who’s prone to grand delusions. In…

Charlie Human - Apocalypse Now Now

11 Jul 20132 stars

Ingredients for a fun and exciting novel but lacks a strong narrator

It starts so well. The early chapters of Charlie Human's wry fantasy *3Apocalypse Now Now*2 are a riot, as sixteen-year-old narrator Baxter Zevcenko introduces us to his dysfunctional family life and shows off the highly profitable porn distribution…

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D.W. Wilson - Ballistics

11 Jul 20133 stars

A confident debut novel about a man on a journey to uncover the truth about his past

In D.W. Wilson's debut novel Ballistics, the Canadian Rockies are on fire, a son searches for his long-lost father, and manly men do manly things. When his grandfather suffers a heart attack, Alan West begins a journey that will uncover the truth about…

Christopher Brookmyre - Flesh Wounds

11 Jul 20134 stars

Scottish crime fiction author goes darker in latest novel

Jasmine Sharp, the aspiring actress-turned-private investigator who first appeared in Where the Bodies are Buried, returns for a third outing in Chris Brookmyre’s latest delve into the murky world of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. When top gangster…

Juliet Conlin - The Fractured Man

11 Jul 20134 stars

An addictive psychological thriller dipped in a ghostly atsmosphere

Psychoanalyst Elliot Taverley aspires to groundbreaking results in graphology. When a stranger with an unusual condition appears at his office, Elliot believes he will be the catalyst for his breakthrough. However, as Elliot starts treating the…

Harpercollins - The Black Crown Project

11 Jul 20132 stars

Random House publishers' first interactive storytelling project sounds more exciting than it is

Black Crown is free-to-play for anyone who signs up, and as players get deeper into the world of the story there are opportunities to pay to ‘unlock story strands, expedite the narrative, and acquire items and status within the world.’ The model is one…

The International acts appearing at the 2013 Edinburgh Festivals

9 Jul 2013

Just 36 of the countries represented by acts appearing at the world's biggest arts festival

1 Argentina. Rodrigo Abd is a World Press Photo prizewinner (Politics). 2 Australia. David Quirk is a deadpan leftfield comic (Fringe)

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The David Bowie connection: shows at 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

9 Jul 2013

Musicians, artists, comedians and choreographers with a connection to David Bowie

He may not be here in the flesh at this year’s festival, but there are plenty musicians, artists, comedians and choreographers in town with a connection to the Thin White Duke. Douglas Gordon painted Self Portrait of You + Me (David Bowie)

Anne-Marie Casey - An Englishwoman in New York

3 Jul 20132 stars

A series of fragmented, fatuous blog posts masquerading as a novel

When Lucy Lovett’s husband loses his city job in that thing called ‘the recession’ and they move to Manhattan, she faces a sequence of challenges: the law of the school gate, fitting in with the other yummy mummies, finding the best coffee in the…

Size is Everything: National Flash Fiction Day - Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Sat 22 Jun 2013

1 Jul 20133 stars

Edinburgh’s spoken word groups unite to spread very short stories

Sat 22 Jun 2013 was National Flash Fiction Day, a celebration of the short-short story. And to mark the occasion, Edinburgh’s main creative writing groups (Blind Poetics, Illicit Ink, Writers' Bloc and Inky Fingers, whose Mairi Campbell-Jack, pictured…

Sarah Moss - Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland

24 Jun 20133 stars

A deeply personal account of an Icelandic experience

The high north of Europe has captured the imagination of travellers, artists and writers for centuries, exuding a magnetic pull towards northerly latitudes of medieval sagas, crystalline summer days of endless light and latterly, societies underpinned…

John Niven - Straight White Male

24 Jun 20134 stars

Triumphantly entertaining assault on the literary world

Having viciously assaulted the music and TV industries in previous novels, Niven turns to his own trade in Straight White Male. A millionaire by the age of 30, celebrated author Kennedy Marr has decamped to LA and spends his time in a drunken…