Monday, 21 April 2014

A Great Light has gone out

It happens very rarely that I am moved to tears by art. Only 3 singers have managed it. I'd never have dreamed that the staff in The Red Fort curry house would one day be fussing around me asking if everything was all right.  Tears streamed down my face and I blurted out as I bawled: "Fine, I'm fine. This is just so ball-acheingly beautiful." I held up my Rougan Josh and tear-stained copy of Alistair MacLeod's No Great Mischief.

The literati call it a novel and the Canadian writer of the finest Scottish novel of the 20th Century died yesterday, aged 77. I think it sings more like a ballad, a memorable collection of vivid vignettes that moves the reader with an emotional range and intensity of both humour and melancholy I'd never have thought possible through the bare, written word. 

I chose the title of this post because one of the most striking things about the novel is that it is suffused with light of every kind, and no-one could write light like Alistair MacLeod.  Friends who were privileged to know him speak of his kindness, generosity and humility. A truly gentle man.

If you've never read No Great Mischief, do yourself a favour.  The National Post reports that, as well as his family, he is survived by a second novel. I for one can't wait to read it.

Fois do t'anam.