Saturday, January 08, 2005


Write What You (Can't) Know

Fellow memoirists, if you're feeling bad about your childhood, read The Scotsman and be glad that at least you have one:

LYNSEY Calderwood’s latest story is written from the viewpoint of a 12-year-old girl. There’s nothing unusual in a writer adopting a child’s perspective - some of our most successful have done so, from Dickens to Mark Haddon - but Lynsey can’t remember being 12 years old. A brain injury when she was 14 wiped out her memories. Though it changed her life, and forced her to re-learn basic skills, from reading to using a toothbrush, it has not prevented her from fulfilling her childhood ambition and becoming a writer....

"My tutor said: ‘Why don’t you write about something about your childhood?’ I said ‘I can’t, I don’t remember anything’. I thought he would drop it, but he then said: ‘Why don’t you write about what it’s like not to have a childhood?’.

Calderwood, now 26 and finishing an MFA in creative writing at the University of Glasgow, is also the author of Cracked: Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury, which is available here in the US at the usual sources. But her venture in child-narrated fiction is in a new U Glasgow anthology called Stramash, which for me at least has proven extraordinarily hard to find. The only seller I've found listing it is, which has it in their abandon-all-hope "4 to 6 weeks" category. With any luck, further interest by the British press will nudge it into wider distribution...

UPDATE: Reader Gavin Pugh has been kind enough to direct me to Lynda Perkins at U Glasgow as the person to contact for copies of Stramash; she's at

ONE MORE UPDATE: ... and she directed me at . So..... in 4-6 weeks, perhaps I'll have something further to report.

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