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the Complete Review
the complete review - literature

Alasdair Gray

edited by
Phil Moores

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To purchase Alasdair Gray: Critical Appreciations And A Bibliography

Title: Alasdair Gray
Editor: Phil Moores
Genre: various
Written: (2002)
Length: 242 pages
Availability: Alasdair Gray - US
Alasdair Gray - UK
Alasdair Gray - Canada
  • Critical Appreciations And A Bibliography
  • Introduction by Will Self
  • With contributions by Philip Hobsbaum, Jonathan Coe, S B Kelly, Elspeth King, Angus Calder, Stephen Bernstein, Kevin Williamson, Phil Moores, and Joe Murray
  • Includes a Personal CV by Alasdair Gray
  • Includes an Interview by Kathy Acker of Gray
  • Includes an Alasdair Gray Bibliography
  • Includes 15 colour plates

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Our Assessment:

A- : very good survey covering most aspects of Gray's work

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Scotland on Sunday A 28/7/2002 Bill Duncan
TLS A 9/8/2002 M.P. McCulloch

  From the Reviews:
  • "This is an admirable volume: scholarly but always warmly engaged with its subject, encouraging the reader towards reacquaintance with familiar work while whetting the appetite to explore lesser-known areas of the achievements of Alasdair Gray." - Bill Duncan, Scotland on Sunday

  • "Three essays on Gray's fiction are outstanding, giving it the wider stage it deserves and freeing his reputation from the confines of his first groundbreaking publication (...) and the Glasgow novel." - Margery Palmer McCulloch, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Alasdair Gray: Critical Appreciations And A Bibliography offers a bit of everything about Alasdair Gray. As there is a great deal to the man and artist, there is a great and varied amount to be found here.
       Gray himself has a hand in some of it. The book is, like all of Gray's books, carefully and attractively designed. Miniature reproductions of the covers of Gray's book grace the cover of this one, and the boards beneath are also his. From "Hullo" to "Goodbye" his illustrations are used throughout the book (to good effect).
       A big bonus is that Gray the painter and muralist is not overlooked. Elspeth King's interesting essay discusses his work as painter, illustrator, and muralist, but the real delight here is the colour plates of several of Gray's works. Familiar mainly only as an illustrator of his own books, the bigger canvases (or woods, and murals, etc.) are marvels too, and too little known and seen (at least outside Scotland). (Like Peter Weiss, Gray is an artist of significance both as writer and painter/illustrator).
       There are other bits of biography too, including Gray's own contribution, a "Personal Curriculum Vitae", and a genial interview with Kathy Acker.
       Other reminiscences are more personal. Will Self's introduction is a nice appreciation, and both Jonathan Coe's and Kevin Williamson's tales of encountering Gray's work are revealing and entertaining.
       Philip Hobsbaum, S B Kelly, Angus Calder, and Stephen Bernstein offer more scholarly and critical appraisals -- covering all of Gray's work including the often overlooked poetry and non-fiction.
       Joe Murray's "Short Tale of Woe" is an amusing Grayish coda.
       Phil Moores also provides an extensive annotated bibliography which is most welcome. A minor quibble here, the one disappointing absence in the book, is that the foreign editions of Gray's work are not included. But otherwise it is a thorough bibliography (including even a phantom) and the annotations are most welcome. The Dalkey Archive Press' edition of Poor Things should have also slipped in, but at least Moores mentions the DAP plans to reprint this and other Gray titles. (There is also this tantalizing prospect: "Alasdair Gray will launch his own website at www.alasdairgray.co.uk during 2002." So far no luck, but we're keeping our fingers crossed .....)

       The collection is very well put together, offering something on essentially every part of Gray's work with little overlap among the contributions (at least none that annoys). Gray as painter, poet, pamphleteer, and preface-collector is too often ignored, and the collection is important simply for offering thorough considerations of these parts of Gray's oeuvre. It is the personal encounters, however, that really stand out, whether with the books (and here both their content and their appearance and presentation) or with the man. The contributors all know Gray and/or his work very well, and their tributes offer insight into what makes him such a remarkable artist. Striking also is the warmth and great admiration one finds throughout, for both man and artist
       A delight and must-read for any Gray-fan, though those who are not familiar with the man and his work (those poor souls) are probably better served reading some of his work first.

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© 2002-2021 the complete review

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