After reading Fife-based Scottish singer-songwriter James Yorkston’s 2011 autobiographical ‘It’s Lovely to be Here – The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent‘ I was pretty intrigued when in 2016 James decided to give fiction a go with Three Craws. Despite one being factual and the other fiction, they both highlighted his natural ability for telling a good yarn and his superb dry humour. They were damn fine reads.
Atmospheric, absorbing and darkly funny. Every bit as skilful as his songwriting” – Lauren Laverne, BBC 6 Music
“A subtle, insightful and occasionally very funny look at the way small rural communities can sometimes smother their own” – The Scotsman
The good news is that he’s back with his second novel: The High And Lonesome Blues of Tommy The Bruce. Set for publication via London-based crowdfunding publisher Unbound, the novel is available for pre-order now. Supporters can pledge anywhere between £10 to £750 and more, to receive either a digital or hard copy of the book, together with additional perks ranging from limited edition drawings and screenprints by James to a bottle of rare whisky. All supporters will see their name printed in every edition of the book.
I have a lot of respect for Unbound, not just in their approach to funding literature in an age where assigning value and worth seem to have gone out the window but also in their choice of books to support. The first book I supported via Unbound was First Light – a celebration of Alan Garner in 2016 and there’s nothing more satisfying than receiving the first edition with your name in the back alongside a list of supporters who helped to make it happen.
But back to The High And Lonesome Blues of Tommy The Bruce – Precise, chilling and all too believable – scored throughout with a genuinely unsettling menace, belied by the ease of James’s storytelling – it’s a shot of southern Gothic poured out in the Southern Highlands of Scotland.
Meet Tommy Bruce – he’s washed-up already, marooned in a ramshackle hotel he inherited from his parents in the wilds of North Perthshire. His life is far too off the main tourist trail to be viable – he’s too young to be middle-aged but too old to be what you could call young. Saddled with debt, grotty premises that are falling down around him, and a crippling loneliness, Tommy’s slowly but determinedly drinking himself and his business out of existence.
Until one evening into the lounge-bar and out of the blue walks Fiona McLean. And before long she’s moved behind the bar, into the hotel, and into Tommy’s bed. Fiona blows into Tommy’s life and through the hotel, and with the light she brings, Tommy’s fortunes might just be turning around; but in her wake has also slipped in darkness – names and faces from the past who mean Tommy no goodwill at all, criminal forces that threaten to ruin him, the hotel, and what little happiness he’s managed, haplessly, to cobble together.
In Tommy himself we have an antihero as unlike his historical namesake as could be imagined – shoulderless, very nearly spineless, and not at all the man to save himself, Fiona and their future. Until you push him too far…
Find out more and pre-order it here: https://unbound.com/books/tommy-the-bruce/