The One O'Clock Gun
The One O'Clock Gun, which regularly startles unwary tourists and is an instinctive time-check for the locals, is a well-established institution at the heart of the Scottish capital. The other One O'Clock Gun is less well known, but is surely a better indicator of why Edinburgh was chosen as UNESCO's first City of Literature than anything issued by the tourist board. Launched in 2004, The Gun was a somewhat austere-looking, columned broadsheet distributed through many of Edinburgh's most distinctive taverns which, four times a year (roughly), published a selection of poetry, fiction and sometimes scurrilous prose. This anthology gathers together material from each of the Gun's 17 published issues, including essays by the late Angus Calder, and work by Alasdair Gray, Suhayl Saadi and then-newbies like Rodge Glass, Peter Burnett and Jenny Lindsay (whose poem, In Scotland We Know We're Fucked, shines brightly even in the eyes of a confirmed anti-poetry barbarian like myself). Not everything here is (to paraphrase Calder) witty and/or beautiful (the early fondness for archaic prose was thankfully dropped after the first year), but there are enough gems to ensure this is a fitting tribute to the Capital's literary grassroots. [Paul F Cockburn]
Out Now. Published by Leamington Books, Cover price £10.