Journalism

A selection of Irvine's features and reviews:

Features

  • Iceberg Slim - Pimp Introduction

    27th March 2012
    I was driving through some black neighbourhoods on Chicago’s South Side this Spring, with American writer Don De Grazia, en route to a White Sox game. Our destination was Bridgeport, an old ...
  • Mumbai

    27th March 2012
    Travelling first class to Mumbai, via Abu Dabi, by UAE’s luxury airline, Etihad, is a wonderful experience, but I could scarcely describe it as a sobering one. As an unreconstructed Scot ...
  • Tony Wilson, R.I.P.

    10th April 2009
    Like many people, I was gutted when I heard about Tony Wilson's death. It was made all the sadder when I learned that Tony was caught up in our "universal" national health ...
  • Calcutta

    3rd May 2007
    Let’s not mince words. It is a stinking cesspit of squalor, poverty and disease. It sits on a mosquito-ridden swamp and only owes its existence to the fact that it was a trading post for an ...
  • The Fictions of Misogyny

    5th March 2007
    I usually get accused of hating my own gender, so it was a very strange experience to be labelled ‘misogynistic’, following a recent reading at the Edinburgh Book Festival. I was ...
  • Sneers and Self Loathing

    5th February 2007
    One factor seems constant in Scottish politics: a surge in SNP support, and Scotland becomes an interesting place. South of the border and further afield, nobody generally cares much about Scottish ...
  • Drug Cultures in Trainspotting and Porno

    8th October 2006
    On a recent visit back home to Edinburgh I ran into an old acquaintance who looked a bit the worse for wear since I last saw him. He was shuffling down the road, sweating heavily, but as he ...
  • Murder Most Predictable

    2nd February 2006
    Several years back, I attended an event that was to resonate strongly with me. I was sitting in a crematorium with a sobbing family, mourning another youth who went to town on a night out and ...
  • Greenland

    2nd September 2005
    At school I was once hypotheticallly asked where my ideal holiday destination would be. In order to be different from the assorted Spain’s and America’s, I chose Greenland. My teacher ...
  • Afghanistan

    11th August 2005
    Islamabad Airport is crowded and hot and it seems an interminable wait to get onto the UN charter flight to Kabul. An infinitely patient party of grinning Japanese men, carrying implausible amounts ...

Reviews

  • Glister

    4th April 2010
    John Burnside’s haunting new novel Glister, set in an unforgiving post-industrial town, concerns itself with the disappearance and presumed murder of several teenage boys, based around a ...
  • Heartfelt

    4th October 2009
    Nick Hornby has a lot to answer for. Fever Pitch showed that there was more to being a football fan than simply turning up on a Saturday (or whenever) to watch your favourite team. Unfortunately, ...
  • Bright Shiny Morning

    4th September 2009
    James Frey’s first foray into the world of books, his supposed autobiography, A Million Little Pieces, was a spectacular debut in that it provoked that rarest of events: a genuine literary ...
  • Nine

    4th September 2009
    NIne by Andrzej Stasuik The Poles, probably more than any Europeans, must feel that they deserve a little peace, freedom and prosperity. Sandwiched between the neighbors from hell in the form of ...
  • Audition

    4th September 2009
    The dust jacket of Ryu Murakami’s latest novel, Audition, somewhat pompously describes the author as “renaissance man for the modern age.” This contention is amusingly backed up ...
  • Swung

    4th September 2009
    In Britain we’ve never been inclined to take sex seriously. For all sorts of cultural reasons the thought of doing so always leaves us feeling a little embarrassed and vulnerable; a good idea ...
  • Keiron Smith, Boy

    4th August 2009
    James Kelman’s latest novel Keiron Smith, Boy, tells the tale of the primary school years of its likeable narrator. Though set in the sixties, the book has a timeless feel, uncluttered by pop ...
  • Winterwood

    4th August 2009
    I once heard Roddy Doyle described as the Beatles of modern Irish fiction. If this is the case, then to carry this analogy further, the edgier and more disturbing Patrick McCabe must undoubtedly be ...
  • The Testament of Gideon Mack

    4th August 2009
    In James Robertson’s latest novel, or novel within a novel, the protagonist, Gideon Mack, is a Church of Scotland Minister in the north-east town of Monimaskit, who has been found dead on a ...
  • Weekend

    4th August 2009
    Weekend follows a group of Glasgow students and lecturers who head for a study weekend at the facility of Willowvale on the Scottish Island of Cannamore. Of course, study is only the espoused ...
  • The People's Act of Love

    7th May 2006
    I obtained a proof copy of this spellbinding novel several months ago. On finishing it, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that I was blown away. I immediately re-read the book, and again ...
  • The Thistle and the Rose

    8th September 2005
    THE THISTLE AND THE ROSE This is a book largely written from a Scottish perspective, but what has become a rather unique one. North of the border, Alan Massie, practically without peer as a ...
  • The Contortionists Handbook

    12th April 2004
    THE CONTORTIONIST’S HANDBOOK. The term ‘cult’ is liberally applied to novels, but can have a myriad of meanings. Some critics habitually bestow it on the sort of book that they ...