This collection of the best of Iain Crichton Smith's short fiction brings together not one but many voices, both public and private. Ranging from inner promptings towards self-discovery, through the unconscious comedy of everyday speech, to the rantings of near madness, these stories display the peaks of Smith's wry, surrealistic humour, and his confessional mode in re-telling the past.
The longer stories, illustrative of Smith's novels, are represented by 'Murdo' and the seminal 'The Black and the Red'. There are also outstanding short pieces such as 'Listen to the Voice' and the poignant vignette, 'The Dying'.
Iain Crichton Smith (1928-98) was born in Glasgow and raised by his widowed mother on the Isle of Lewis before going to Aberdeen to attend university. As a sensitive and complex poet in both English and his native Gaelic, he has published many collctions of verse, from The Long RIver in 1955 to A Life in 1986. The latter volume looks back over his years in Lewis and Aberdeen, to remember a spell of National Service in the fifties, leading to his work as an English teacher in Clydebank and Dumbarton, and from 1955 at the High School in Oban until his retirement in 1977. He has been recipient of a number of literary prizes, Scottish Arts Council Awards and fellowships, as well as the Queen's Jubilee Medal and, in 1980, an OBE.