Barry Graham the Scrivener

Scottish Author, Poet, Zen Buddhist Monk

cover of what starts here stops here, drawing of robin flying over glasgow

“A gallus wee Glesga robin is blown off-course by an unseasonal gale onto a rollercoaster flight of discovery in the Dear Green Place.”

There are important books that make for grim or difficult reading. What Starts Here Stops Here: A Tale of Glasgow and the World is not one of them. It is a book of urgent importance, but it is also a joy to read. Combining the incantatory writing of babs nicgriogair and the glorious artwork of Annabel Wright, it is presented as a children’s book, and it is that — but it is a children’s book for adults, and also an adults’ book for children, showing the history of Glasgow, and of the racism, classism, capitalism and arrogant human exceptionalism that has brought the world to its present (and likely final) crisis.

Told from the perspective of a time-travelling robin who meets James Watt, Angus Smith, and “the Birdman of Pollok” Colin MacLeod, as well as interacting with Glasgow’s murals, this short, huge, beautiful book not only diagnoses our societal disease and its causes, but gently points the way to health.

#ScottishBooks #ScottishWriting #ScottishArt #anthropocene #glasgow #ClimateCrisis #BabsNicgriogairAuthor #AnnabelWrightArtist

—Barry Graham

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Red berries dripping with rain

This evening, I’ve been rereading passing through by Tom Leonard.

Shortly after I moved back home to Glasgow in 2017, I ran into him in Coffee Pod on Woodlands Road.

In December 2018, he died of COPD, age 74.

In 2020, Coffee Pod was closed by the lockdown, and never reopened.

In April this year, passing through was published by The Common Breath, a small press whose publisher, Brian Hamill, named it after a Tom Leonard essay.

A couple weeks later, Brian Hamill threw himself into the River Clyde in Glasgow and drowned, age 39.

This evening, I’ve been reading the book again.

Now I’m under a blanket knitted for me by my wife, drinking tea and writing this.

#impermanence #LifeAndDeath #MonoNoAware #TomLeonardPoet #BrianHamill #ScottishPoetry #ScottishWriting #BarryGrahamAuthor

—Barry Graham

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A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

Returning to Reims by Didier Eribon

Sundance: The Robert Sundance Story by Robert Sundance with Marc & Marnie Gaede

Manuel de Civilite Biohardcore by Antoine Boute, Stephane de Groef and Adrien Herda

The Beggar’s Garden by Michael Christie

#MonthlyReads #books #BarryGrahamAuthor

—Barry Graham

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Last year, I posted this list of recommended creepy reads for Halloween. This year, I recommend two books, both by Lisa Tuttle: the short story collections A Nest of Nightmares and The Dead Hours of Night.

Although Lisa Tuttle has long been a major name, I had somehow not read her until daishin recently introduced me to her work. Neither of these books has a story that is merely very good; every one is great — sparse, vivid, tense, and offering no resolutions or pat explanations.

#LisaTuttle #books #HorrorFiction #FeministHorror #ShortStories #DaishinStephenson #BarryGrahamAuthor

—Barry Graham

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Kim Traynor photo of Free French House plaque in Regent Terrace Edinburgh

Signed on this day in Paris, in 1295 – the first treaty forming the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France. I applaud, for obvious reasons.

#AuldAlliance #FranceAndScotland #ScotlandInEurope #BarryGrahamAuthor

—Barry Graham

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Bookshelf with copies of Le Champion Nu by Barry Graham

In the events I did while in France, it was common for people not just to ask me if The Champion’s New Clothes/Le Champion Nu is autobiographical, but to seem to want it to be. (It isn’t.)

My Scottish and American novels have one thing in common: they’re the stories of people and places, not a person, and not this person. It’s currently fashionable to talk about “the right to tell your own story” — but what if, like me, you don’t want to tell your own story, because you don’t find it interesting? And “the right to tell your own story” isn’t a right, because it’s dependent on people being interested in listening to the story you’re telling. Otherwise, you’re not telling a story, just talking to yourself, and even you might not be listening.

#writing #books #fiction #AutoFiction #OwnVoices #BarryGrahamAuthor #LeChampionNu

—Barry Graham

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cover of le champion nu by barry graham

At Un aller-retour dans le noir today, my book Le Champion Nu, which I wrote 32 years ago, won the Prix Marianne. Pau is a beautiful city, and the festival is a marvel (amazing to see so many people of all ages who’re serious about books), and I’ve made some new friends.

Speaking of friends… I’m immensely grateful to Mikael Demets, my editor at Editions Tusitala for publishing this book and Le livre de l’homme, and to the great Laurence Viallet, who translated them. Nine bows.

barry graham, masked, sitting at a table stacked with french editions of his books

#ScottishBooks #ScottishFiction #TheChampionsNewClothes #LeChampionNu #EditionsTusitala #PrixMarianne #pau #france #UnAllerRetourDansLeNoir #BarryGrahamAuthor

—Barry Graham

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Poster for Barry Graham author event in Paris

Tomorrow I’m travelling to Pau, France, where I’ll be at Un aller-retour dans le noir until Monday, when I head to Paris, where, on Tuesday evening I’ll be at Librairie Les Guetteurs de Vent.

#books #livres #EditionsTusitala #TheChampionsNewClothes #LeChampionNu #BarryGrahamAuthor #pau #paris

—Barry Graham

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A Nest of Nightmares and The Dead Hours of Night by Lisa Tuttle

The Book of Reykjavik by various authors

The Politics of Friendship by Jacques Derrida

The Wandering Border by Jaan Kaplinski (reread)

#MonthlyReads #books #BarryGrahamAuthor

—Barry Graham

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Jaan Kaplinski

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