Rampant Scotland Book Review
Hoots! - An Anthology of Scottish Comic Writing
Title:Hoots: an Anthology of Scottish Comic Writing
Authors: Susie Maguire and David Jackson Young
Publisher: Harper Collins, London
This an entertaining collection of prose, verse and "one liners" from a galaxy of Scottish comic writers from Tom Morton and Neil Munro to Irvine Welsh and Muriel Gray, peppered with Chic Murray's dry wit and Ian Pattison's "Rab C Nesbitt". There are 50 selections in the book's 160 odd pages and some are abstracts from full-length books. Some of the authors are not immediately associated with comic writing but that just adds to its freshness.
The editors' criteria for selection in this personal anthology is quite simple - it made them laugh. So there is a varied mixture of writers and styles, mixed in random order, which encourages readers to initially dip in and out of the book rather than read it from cover to cover. A lot of the material was broadcast over the years in a BBC Radio programme and the book is, in part, a response to readers who wanted to know where they could find the material in print. So the authors have already had some feedback on the items which have generated a favourable response.
Susie Maguire combines an acting and a writing career with appearances on TV as a comedian, presenter and chat-show host. The notes by her publisher on her career says "She is currently embroidering a cushion with the family motto - Not Today, Not Tomorrow, But Some Time Soon...". David Jackson Young was born in Edinburgh (no, that's not a joke) and is also a writer/performer of professional comedy (Perrier shortlists one month, penury the next) and became a features producer with BBC Radio.
Over the years there have been so many Scottish writers who have entertained their readers with humour ranging from gentle wit to outrageous ribaldry that creating an anthology should be easy. The fact remains that in reality few have been published, so the arrival of this book is to be welcomed. The inclusion of abstracts and items from a wide range of authors encourages readers to seek out more of the works which particularly appeal to them - who would have thought of Ludovic Kennedy telling a joke? The inclusion of poetry as well as prose adds to the variety too. This is a book to come to again and again.
If you have a sense of humour, you will enjoy this book. But it is clearly intended for Scots or those with Scottish ancestry who have at least a basic understanding of the culture. A few of the extracts are written in broad colloquial Scots so if you are not familiar with this you will miss out on these. But whether you have read a lot of Scots authors and are delighted to find some old friends or are unfamiliar with the genre, you will "hoot" with laughter.
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