Lanark 1982
an unofficial Alasdair Gray website

A History Maker (1994)

The novel was adapted from Gray's play 'The History Maker', which was written in 1965 but never produced.

The front flap of the dust jacket includes an apology from the author to the publisher that 'there is no porridge in this tale and Barrie's title is misquoted, but leave as given to distract reviewers from worse defects'. The back flap includes a portrait by Alasdair Taylor of the author and a list of Gray's works that, strangely, includes two books yet to appear (as of 2000) and misses out Lanark. Line drawings illustrate all chapter openings and closings, motifs include swords and shields, mothers with babies, chickens and toads.

The book is deceptive and plays the same trick as Poor Things, in that you think n first reading that what you're getting is a straight adventure story, whereas it in fact holds a profound debate on society, both past and present. The book is set in a time where automated power plants, with a never-ending power source, create food, warmth, housing and clothing so the population do not have to work and want for nothing. War is now a spectator sport and the novel opens with Wat Dryhope's father leading his army to certain death in order to draw the battle on a technicality. Wat yearns for a time when life meant struggle. The book debates the point that a life without pain and battle is no life at all. As in Poor Things, the novel ends with a long section of historical notes.

Alasdair Gray's books are sometimes difficult to get hold of. Where they are available, I have included links below to the amazon sites in the UK and the USA. Where a record is on their database, they will usually include links to used-book sellers who can offer the title, even if it is not available direct from amazon themselves.

Paperback also on Amazon

Paperback also on Amazon

Alternatively, you can try emailing Morag McAlpine, who can send you a list of available titles. She usually has a variety of out-of-print books, often signed, and also a selection of prints of Gray's artwork, also signed.