I don’t share Pat Kanes view of Momus (“for me, he’s one of the most challengingly brilliant Scottish minds of the last twenty years”) or his assessment of Alasdair Gray (“misogynist fantasies suffuse his writings”) but I do agree that The Book of Scotlands is worth a look, suppressing my feeling that it is suffering from being reminiscent, or even derivative of Alec Finlay’s earlier Without Day:
“The Book of Scotlands will outline, in a numerical sequence, one hundred and fifty-six Scotlands which currently do not exist anywhere. At a time when functional independence seems to be a real possibility for Scotland—and yet no one is quite sure what that means—a delirium of visions, realistic and absurd, is necessary.”
Here’s eight of the 156 possible Scotlands:
The Scotland which is China’s Airstrip One, and hosts her intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Scotland in which every schoolchild can recite, by heart, the tabletalk of R.D. Laing.
The Scotland replicated in miniature by Nova Caledonia, a biodiversity lifeship suspended in geostationary orbit 35,786 vertical kilometers above Perth.
The communist Scotland which re-nationalises all its industries and lives according to the principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The hypercapitalist Scotland in which one thousand tiny businesses throng every street and every floor of every building, and cater to every possible human need, and never close.
The Scotland in which the national dish is skewered raw horse-meat flavoured with ginger and coriander.
The Scotland in which geese permanently block the sky, and seethe over the ground as far as the eye can see.
The Scotland in which all food is soup.