Scurrilous Log-rolling Antics Revealed!
- Grub Street — Scurrilous Log-rolling Antics Revealed!
- By Stuart Kelly aka 'The Man of Letters'
- First published in The One O'Clock Gun
- Earlier this year, Mr Alan Taylor, an associate editor of the Glasgow Sunday Herald (incorporating the Weegie Opportunist and the Muriel Spark Update) alerted his readership to an atrocious piece of log-rolling: one Tom Adair, who has been known to review for Scotistan on Sunday, had written an enthusiastic notice in its sister-paper, the Scotsperson, of a novel by Andrew Crumey, who happens to be the literary editor of Scotistan on Sunday. Despite the fact that Mr Adair’s opinion concurred with those of the major Southron papers, and, indeed, the Sunday Herald’s regular reviewer, Mr Colin Waters, Mr Taylor was sent into fits of indignation at this blatant piece of in-house back-scratchery.
- Mr Taylor has again done the world of letters a service by pointing out this frankly disgraceful habit. To aid him in his quest to rid the literary world of such abominable behaviour, the Man of Letters is glad to assist him in rooting out perpetrators under his own jurisdiction.
- On 7 March, 2004, the Sunday Herald carried an encomiastic review of Civil War: the Wars of Three Kingdoms, 1638-60, calling it “superb”, “fine” and “judicious”. The author of said work? Step forward Mr Trevor Royle, associate editor of the Sunday Herald. On 2 May, we are treated to a 2,000 word précis and blurb for Joanna Blythman’s Shopped. Is this the same Joanna Blythman who writes restaurant reviews for the Sunday Herald? But of course!
- 20 June, and Colin Waters presents an interview with Ron Butlin, a Sunday Herald not-quite-so-regular book reviewer. “Light, and yet learned”; “unalloyed triumph”! Butlin thanks his publishers with a couple of favourable reviews of his co-stabled writers.
- 25 July, and Mr Waters is called upon again, to deliver a brief critique of Godless Morality, by Richard Holloway, a frequent Sunday Herald contributor and a man who took his position as bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church so seriously that when he left the job, he lost his faith to boot. “You can’t help but feel that if the church had more men like Holloway on board it wouldn’t be in the state it is now,” enthuses the reviewer. Good jacket quote, and churlish to observe that Mr Holloway’s theology when he was “on board” was not exactly “godless”.
- As the Book Festival approaches, Mr Holloway is again reviewed: 8 August, and Brian Morton, formerly a disc-jockey and now a stalwart of the Sunday Herald’s pages, can only find one comparison for Holloway’s atheism-lite: “Unamuno couldn’t have put it better himself”.
- Well, actually, the Spanish philosopher probably could have put it better – let’s see whether Holloway’s prose, or even his name, is still remembered 70 years after his death. George Rosie, the contributing editor of the Sunday Herald has a book out in August: right on time, a review appears on the 8th, lauding a “rewarding” and “very good” book. They must all be quite tired since they are preparing for the Book Festival, sponsored by the Herald and featuring readings by Rosie, Royle, Taylor, Butlin and Blythman and no fewer than ten appearances by the former bishop.
- But no, it continues: 19 September, and Mr Royle is singing the praises of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. “Quite simply, it is the greatest publishing event of the new century”, we are solemnly informed, and even the redoubtable Sunday Herald has to admit, in an italic sidebar, that Trevor Royle is a contributor to the ODNB, and, er, an associate editor of the paper.
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