I’ve become slightly obsessed with William McIlvanney

Yeah this guy, with the dashing moustache. Which, by the way, is a hard look to pull off, but pull it off he does, with aplomb. Aplomb, I tell you.

I was at Bloody Scotland recently. I missed William McIlvanney’s event, which I was pretty annoyed about. But all day, everyone was talking about him. I met an editor friend at Canongate, who are re-publishing McIlvanney’s backlist next year. Awesome.

Later, after a few beers, I stumbled into a conversation between Willie and Denise Mina, where Willie was explaining how he was barred from The Ubiquitous Chip, where Denise used to work. I’ve met Willie a few times before at events and so on, and I have a small connection to him, since he was at school with my dad at Kilmarnock Academy, then they both went to Glasgow uni studying English, then became English teachers.

Aaaaaanyway. William McIlvanney is one of the nicest, most humble and graceful and generous human beings I’ve ever met. With charisma and charm up the ying-yang.

So I’ve re-read Laidlaw in the last few days. I’d forgotten how amazing it is, on machismo, on Glasgow, on Scotland, on the human condition. And I’ve dug out my old copies of Tony Veitch, Walking Wounded, The Kiln, Docherty and The Big Man to re-read.

He really is a bit of a legend. That is all.

About Doug Johnstone

I write things
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3 Responses to I’ve become slightly obsessed with William McIlvanney

  1. ewan morrison says:


    I’m interviewing mcIlcanney tomorrow – any questions you’d lime to pose him? Cheers budd E


  2. doug johnstone says:

    Hey, sir. Yeah, ask him if he’s still writing poetry and essays and short stories. Ask him what he thinks of the modern split between ‘literary’ and ‘crime’ fiction (since Laidlaw is clearly both). Ask him how it felt to be out of print, and what he thinks of Canongate. Ask if he’s really thinking of a new Laidlaw book as he’s hinted. Ask if Glasgow/Scotland’s a better or worse place than it was 40 years ago.

    Ach, just chat – he’s a gent!

  3. Colman Keane says:

    Just got a well read copy of Laidlaw last week after reading about this book on-line. Hopefully it’s/he’s more readable than James Kelman! Pish in my opinion, definitely don’t want to go there again.

    By a spooky conicidence just about to start Smokeheads!
    Must be Scottish month with my reading, cos I just got done with a couple of Douglas Lindsay’s last month,

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