“An Evening with James Robertson”
On Wednesday 22 November James Robertson was interviewed by Rev Jim Dewar at Currie Library
in front of an audience of over forty people. Jim started by asking about James’ latest book in which
the author describes conversations, both real and imaginary, between James and his friend, the
musician, Michael Marra. James was clearly a great fan of the eccentric folk singer from Dundee and
Jim Dewar extracted some fascinating insights from James about his friend Michael. In his later
career Michael got quite anxious in the run up to a gig so his wife, who organised the event, only told
him a couple of days in advance. Michael had whacky lyrics but clearly our present wordsmith
admired the way Michael was able to put events, like Culloden, into a song of 3 minute duration.
There was time too to hear passages from James’ latest novel “To be continued”. The story is
intriguing as it involves a talking toad. Why the toad? Jim enquired and James explained how a toad
had visited his house the summer he was writing the book. And, when he researched toads in
general, he realised that they live long lives so he saw them as creatures endowed with wisdom. So,
as a literary device, the toad provides the wisdom somethimes lacking in Man and in particular James’
human characters in the book.
The audience asked a range of questions including whether James would return to historical novels.
He said he never wanted to be pigeon-holed as one genre of writer and explained that we are all
history to some degree. Another question probed whether he knew the ending of his books when he
started to write them but he said no as that would be boring.
16 November - 2 December 2017
Jim started with a conventional description of James enumerating
the many novels James has written, his 365 short stories one for
each day of the year each with just 365 words and his editorships.
However, Jim ended with the words James wrote about himself as
if Michael Marra had been introducing him . This description
appears on the cover of the Michael Marra book, just one good
reason for buying the book.