Author(s): Alasdair Gray
Engraved on the wall outside the Scottish Parliament are the words Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation. Attributed to Alasdair Gray, Scotlands national treasure, this perfectly exemplifies Grays humility, his awareness that his status is a shared one.
This goes some way to explain the title of Grays essay collection, Of Me and Others. I thought this book would turn out to be a ragbag of interesting scraps, he writes in the foreword, I now think it has the unity of a struggle for a confident culture, a struggle shared with a few who became good friends and thousands I have never met. This essay collection is all at once an intellectual autobiography of Scotlands greatest living writer a conversation with writers and painters who influenced and have been influenced by him, and a cultural and political manifesto-as-collage.
A cult figure all over the world and across generations, Gray engages with figures both known in North America, such as R.D. Laing, Anthony Burgess and Will Self, and largely unknown Susan Boyd, Joan Ure, and Philip Hobsbaum. What emerges is a portrait not just of himself, but of a radically democratic vision of society, profoundly concerned not just with self-expression but of care for ones fellow citizens.