Never scared to rush blindly into an unknown situation, waving our arms around madly, Chemikal Underground jumped at the chance to release the audiobook version of 'The Year of Open Doors', a short story anthology published by Glasgow's independent publishing house Cargo. A brave collection by some of Scotland's brightest emerging (and in some cases previously unpublished) writers, we respected what Cargo were attempting and gladly threw our tattered hat into the ring in an attempt to help out.
We know too, that the people who like our music (yes, you) are a cultured lot and would no doubt be keen to sample some of the great writing that's out there whether you stumble across it in a bookshop, Amazon or indeed a record label's online store so please ante up and support the project. Irvine Welsh himself has lent his support, penning the foreward that will be included in the paperback run due out early next year. We felt that Irvine could talk up this project much more capably than we could, so his foreward is reproduced for you in full below.
For more information on the book click on Cargo's link at the end of this introduction.
FOREWARD by IRVINE WELSH
I was delighted when Rodge Glass requested that I write a foreword to this book, and equally pleased not to be asked to contribute. While Rodge acknowledged the influence of Kevin Williamson's Children of Albion Rovers anthology as an inspiration in the genesis of this collection, I'm impressed that he and Alan Bissett, who helped him find some of the contributors to The Year of Open Doors, both felt it important not to have more established writers take up valuable space, just for the purpose of selling the concept to publishers.
I'd go further. While I think it's crucial to be inspired by what's gone before, I feel it's also essential to be able to say 'fuck you, this is our scene'. So I'm priviledged to have some association, and what I feel is an appropriate one, with a very important book.
Why is this book important? Well, simply because collections of this ilk, that allow emergent writers to be showcased in print, are increasingly rare. At a time where fiction is largely published, promoted and sold in genres, and new writers are pressurised to fit into one of those marketing holes, it's heartening to see a genuine break-out collection that ignores this tedious and stultifying orthodoxy.
I don't want to say anything about the individual pieces of work, as it irriates me when people insist on doing this in collections of this sort. Suffice to say that my unease that I'd squandered a day's work I could ill-afford settling down to read this book in a series of café's in Miami Beach, gave way to euphoria as I found myself unable to stop until I'd finished the lot. Of course, I realised by then that I hadn't wasted my time, and instead I felt uplifted and inspired. More than that, looking up into the blinding sun on Ocean Drive, I was excessively proud of my maddening, wonderful country, and that its literature was in such rude health and good hands.
I think Rodge and Alan have done a fabulous job in bringing forward an intoxicating mixture of contributions, and the first thing that hit me about The Year of Open Doors was the incredible diversity of the writing and writers. For example, loads of great women storytellers are featured. When I came through with a crop of writers in the Rebel Inc. era, there were some excellent women writers, but in nothing like the numbers you can read in this book. Readings back then too often felt like a boys club, where often the only females present would be the girlfriends or sisters of the guys on stage. Whether the ambience of Scottish literature was just too masculine, or we simply didn't try hard enough to be more culturally and socially inclusive, I can't really say, but I'm certainly glad that's changed. I'm afraid I can't even go into ethnic diversity, because back then, in Scottish fiction at any rate, it was practically non-existent.
Craving the reader's indulgence, I can't let this opportunity go by without singling out one contributor who links us directly to my own generation of writers. Duncan McLean, along with Kevin Williamson and Barry Graham, was a pivotal figure in the Scottish literary scene back then, who enabled many writers; encouraging them to perform, and publishing them in his Clocktower Press booklets, which predated Rebel Inc. He was a great source of personal encouragement to me, and helped people like myself and Alan Warner get into print, putting me in touch with the editor I've had since my first book was published in 1993. He's also the author of one my favourite post-war Scottish novels, and it's a delight to read some new prose fiction by him, and a few other writers I've come to know and admire over the years, but most of all, by the exciting new voices in this superb anthology.