A Cracking Start to Spring

  15 Apr '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Did we have a cracking start to Spring last week? Yes we did… at the launch of Alternatives to Valium in a brand new bookshop, and with a band! It was LOUD and it was brilliant. Thank you to Adam Barclay for hosting in his shop, the wonderful, new and shiny Argonaut Books at the foot of Leith Walk in Edinburgh. Catch them on Instagram and visit them soon (Adam started out as intern at Birlinn many years ago and we are incredibly proud of what he has achieved). Thanks too, to David Robinson for posing thoughtful questions to author Alastair McKay. And HUGE thanks to Edinburgh punk band, The Valves (and quiet apologies to the neighbours!) for the gift to the audience of two terrific, memory inspiring songs. You can catch a clip of the band practising here… but for the full effect and to put it all in context, read the book.

‘Interviews are a dance of suspicion and performance. They are also a form of autobiography, an interrogation in which fame exists as a kind of trick-mirror’

Alternatives to Valium by Alastair McKay is a joyful smash-hit memoir set in the pre-internet days of record shops, typewriters, fanzines, DIY punk bands, mass unemployment and creative ingenuity. And this memoir catches it all – from growing up in North Berwick in the 70s to an award-winning career in journalism that included meeting the author’s hero, Iggy Pop, being led astray by Tilda Swinton, corresponding with Mark E Smith and shooting the breeze with Dolly Parton. All on the pages between two excellent lime green and purple covers.

‘This book is a fanzine disguised as a memoir. It is inspired and informed by music, so it takes the form of an album, with two distinct sides. The first side is about childhood and struggling to find a voice. The second is about interviews and learning how to listen.’

  • Share:


Mountain Guru scoops major award

27 Mar '24
Mountain Guru: The Life of Doug Scott by Catherine Moorehead is the winner of the prestigious Kekoo Naorogi Award, 2024. Congratulations Catherine....
Read More