Andrew Linklater

A masterpiece of boyhood recalled

In his take on the Caledonian antisyzygy — that preference of Scots writers for the sweet/sour conjunction of incompatible ingredients — Hugh MacDiarmid declared himself ‘For harsh, positive masculinity, /The creative treatment of actuality, — /And to blazes with all the sweetie-wives /And colourful confectionery.’ Until his latest novel, you could have said that this