After the Dance by Iain Crichton Smith

 After the Dance  cover

After the Dance by Iain Crichton Smith is a collection of short stories by this Scottish author who wrote poetry as well as novels, writing in both Gaelic (his first language) and English, he died in 1998. He was born in Glasgow but moved to Lewis when he was two years old. Although he wrote poetry and prose he was also a high school English teacher.

These short stories have very diverse subjects ranging from the First World War and the horror of mothers seeing a church elder approaching their houses, it was his job to deliver the telegrams, to a Highland wedding in the city. The Highland father feels completely out of it but when the singing starts and he realises the youngsters don’t know the words of the Gaelic songs well he takes over, singing the traditional songs and turns the celebration into a Gaelic culture fest, to the delight of the younger generation.

There are thirty-one stories in the book and a few of them show the author’s distaste of the Free Church of Scotland’s strict Calvinism. But the existence of Calvinism has given him a chance to write with humour on the subject, every cloud I suppose….

There’s an introduction from author Alan Warner (of Morvern Callar fame), who lived near Iain Crichton Smith in the 1980s and he gives an instance of his sense of humour when he mentions that a woman has such an insistent personality that she is the sort of person that you have to say goodbye to through your own letterbox! Mind you I’m not at all sure that that translates for people who don’t have a letter box in their front door.

I really enjoyed these stories, some more than others of course, but they’re well worth reading. I must try one of his novels next year. If you’re interested you can read his obituary here.

You can read what Jack thought of this anthology here. He’s much more thorough than I am where reviews are concerned.

I read this one for the Read Scotland 2016 Challenge. I believe that’s my thirtieth.