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A Book of Death and Fish

by Ian Stephen

An amazing book following the self-told story of a young man growing up in the Hebrides in the 1960s through to his death in the new millennium. Don’t be put off by the dialect, you’ll soon get your ear in and be reading it fluently. Don’t worry about the free-flowing style – it quickly seems natural. Don’t be put off by the fish, they are only part of the story. Remember it is a novel!

Extract

We couldn’t look out to sea but it was never very far away. Stornoway was still a herring port. I would be sent to the corner shop to buy a score. A different fish from the ones you saw swinging over, in dripping baskets. But the same species. They came from a firkin. That sounded like one of the measures laid out, black on pale blue, on the back of our school jotters. You had to know how many chains were to the furlong. Down the hoil, some cove off a boat would let me gather one for every digit I could hold out. I think I said that, instead of finger, because it’s like a cubit, which maybe wasn’t on the jotters, but it was in the Bible. The fry was taken from spillage from the crans, swung ashore in creels filled from the hold. We’d go back to the Terraces with handfuls, held out ahead. We’d leave behind, drying on the concrete, the cuddies we’d caught. These were small fry of lythe, saithe, cod and whiting.

Parallels

The Crow Road by Iain Banks
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
 

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