It would, of course, be foolish to believe that all we read in the papers is true… and spending an hour on a hotel sofa, café stool, or other convenient surface with ALK might not mean a complete stranger gained insights into her person or work that were all that reliable… and we might want to talk sometime about newspapers filling pages with fluff and puff rather than news and maybe not being in favour of that… or maybe there being other ways, more worthwhile, ways to cover the arts and writing in these days of ever-reducing review coverage.
But if you want to know about ALK and have no intention of ever meeting her, which is quite possibly a wise decision on your part, then below are some of the many and varied reviews of the authors, some of them by repeat offenders, as it were.
And on we go. Enjoy. Or something…
As popular as she is on the Scottish book-festival circuit, trouble seems to follow AL Kennedy from tent to gusty tent. On her way to last year’s Wigtown festival on the remote west coast, it became clear that her cabbie was heading for Wigton in Cumbria. She arrived an hour late, with steam coming out of her ears, and then her microphone broke. “I could shout,” she suggested. “I’m in the mood.” This year at Ullapool, she became reluctantly involved in the rescue of an unwilling gannet. “Of course, just outside Ullapool it dies, so I’ve got this rapidly stiffening, massive bird, and it looks like I’ve murdered it…” A consummate story-teller, Kennedy turned both these mishaps into instant comedy and left her audiences sorry for her, amused and slightly in awe.
ALK – opinions of what goes in my readings are entirely subjective and it would be fun to post different observers reviews of the same event… no, you’re right, it wouldn’t. Sorry about the Gannet. It was like a child to me.
I must admit I will not retain much of her advice from that evening though I now read and enjoy her blog. What I found more interesting was the opportunity to get close to a published author, one who was seemingly unguarded in how she spoke. I have rubbed shoulders with several authors since moving to London and the ones I meet unfortunately do not come across as well as Kennedy. They have the repulsive veneer of self-confidence and pride which seems to me unacceptable when writing fiction. I would imagine that modesty is a marker of creativity and of talent. The meekness of those who want to create is something I find myself liking in people, and liking in A L Kennedy.
ALK – Yeah… I actually have a repulsive veneer, too. A repulsive veneer of meekness.
In a relationship with someone she refers to only as “the gentleman of my choice”, she sounds contented and relaxed. This may of course be because she has just had a two-week holiday, something of a rarity for a woman with such a punishing work ethic she makes bees look like sloths.
ALK – I have never dressed a bee up as a sloth. That would be cruel
I don’t think we are complacent about her exactly, but I’m not sure we’ve ever fallen in love with her the way we probably should… We are pitched on the edge of the abyss: we don’t want to look over and we don’t want her to look over for us, either. We can’t love her. We might get hurt.
ALK – bless…
There is something of the night about A.L.Kennedy
Rosemary Goring – Glasgow Herald
ALK – My favourite, of course it’s my favourite, it will always be my favourite comment.
It would be a disaster if Kennedy were to climb out of the Eeyore costume and give up novels or grumbling for good.
Katy Guest – The Independent
ALK – This was before she decided I was cheerful, rather than some kind of donkey-based transvestite. I look forward to our next meeting. Actually, Katy seems very nice. But I could be wrong. I’ve only mey her twice. In interviews.
They’d mention the videos of executions and torture on her shelves, her small collection of ceramic eyeballs and prosthetic limbs…
David Robinson – The Scotsman
ALK – no limbs, no limbs, ever… and it was only ever one video. And unpleasant but necessary one.
Her wit is pretty deadpan which has led some critics to take seriously comments about her personal life which are deeply ironic. Worse, it has led others to make glib connections between the characters in her book and her own personality.
Stuart Kelly – Scotland on Sunday
ALK – Stuart actually does know me… do you spot the differences here ? Is it just me ?
Scottish comedian A.L.Kennedy won the Best Novel category for Day…
ALK – Yay. Go Medway Messenger. Comic suddenly wins book prize. That’s news.
You can’t help wondering if some of her moroseness derives from the ever-present fact of physical pain. (This will go up on her website in the glib psychobabble section.)
Geraldine Bedell – The Guardian
ALK – Your wish is my command.
She is radiantly well-scrubbed-looking, with a big, warm, enthusiastic manner. Jenny Turner – The Guardian
Alison Kennedy opens the door of her sepulchral flat in Glasgow, head bowed and muttering incomprehensibly. She is round-shouldered, blue-jeaned and bare-faced… small, hunched person.
Julia Llewellyn Smith – The Times
The picture of well-adjusted bonhomie… her eyes were dazzling.
Tom Adair – Glasgow Herald
Berkoff was a tough act to follow, but A.L.Kennedy is no slouch as a performer herself.
Colin Donald – The Scotsman
When she reads her stories she lights up the room with the rhythm of her sentences, the reach of her insight.
ALK – We’ve lost who gave us this quote. But , dammit, we’re keeping it up there. I think it referred to a long-ago reading in UAE.
She has the open and shut face of a 12-year-old girl.
Ajay Close – Glasgow Herald
ALK – I deny it all. No children’s faces have ever been in my Collection of Weird Shit to Freak Out Journalists. Which, of course, I don’t have.
With such a skilful mixture of debility and repartee, who’s to say what’s real and what’s just camouflage ?
ALK – Not Ajay Close, anyway…
She looks like an angel dressed for the street with an unpainted face, an irregular smile and hair punishingly pulled back.
Kate Kellaway – The Observer
ALK – yeah…
She often seems pale to the point of translucence; she is plagued with pain from distortions of her spinal column.
Catherine Lockerbie – W magazine
In the time that it takes to nod and smile, Kennedy has moved in for the coup de grace. “This article, she says, smiling, a sharky, neat-toothed grin, “is therefore unnecessary.
E. Jane Dickson – The Daily Telegraph
.. the figure hunched at the head of a boardroom table, on the fifth floor of the Random House headquarters, looks far from happy.Her skin is so pale that you fear it couldn’t survive normal daylight and almost her first words are to request that the harsh office lights be turned off. She speaks in a voice that’s barely a whisper and sips water frantically as if trying to quench some terrible thirst.
Christina Patterson – The Independent