Interview: Aly Sidgwick


Alexi Rose Belchere interviews author Aly Sidgwick about her debut novel, Lullaby Girl.


“Part of me is still scared of the sea, though I don’t really remember bein’ in it. In some ways, I think I might find my old self there. We switched places, me an’ her, in Loch Oscaig, an’ I’m the one who made it to shore… She knows exactly what she was runnin’ from, or towards.” 

Review: Into That Darkness


Samantha King reviews Into That Darkness, the stage dramatisation of interviews with a real life Nazi war criminal.


The name Gitta Sereny admittedly wasn’t one I was hugely familiar with before I heard about the Citizens Theatre doing a production on her work, but it’s not one I’ll be forgetting any time soon.

Review: Scottish Independence – A Feminist Reponse


Rachel Cunningham reviews a new book by Cat Boyd and Jenny Morrison which aims to assess whether a Yes vote would be a good thing for Scottish women.

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Scottish Independence – A Feminist Response offers a short account of a debate that has been around longer than the case for an Independent Scotland, giving a brief assessment of history, war, nation states, gender in culture, violence against women and power and equality in the UK. The authors explore these topics with this aim in mind:

“The question we want to answer is not whether Scotland should be an independent country, but how a Yes vote can change the lives of Scottish women. This is a case for radical change, which seeks to expose the current system and explain what ‘better’ would look like. We don’t want to see a post-Yes Scottish society that’s simply more of the same.”

Review: How To Build A Girl


Ellen MacAskill reviews Caitlin Moran’s latest novel.

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Caitlin Moran is a fascinating writer and personality to follow because she is in many ways a paradox. She is an offbeat comic; she is a hard-nosed activist. She is, in some ways, a great role model; she is a heavy-drinking smoker. She is a respected author; she writes like a teenager. Her latest novel, How to Build a Girl, brings all these factors together.

It is the story of an optimistic adolescent, Johanna, who grows out of her chaotic family home and becomes a music journalist in London in the early 1990s. Along the way she tries to save her family from poverty, reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde, consumes countless books and records, and hunts down sexual adventure. Those who have read Moran’s iconic memoir-polemic How to be Woman will be aware of the parallels between this story and the author’s life. But far from being a lazily recycled autobiography, this fact only deepens our sympathy with the heroine’s tribulations.

Book Review: Laurie Penny, ‘Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution’


Ellen MacAskill writes about Laurie Penny’s latest book, Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution.

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“I can’t wait for us to meet one another as equals. I can’t wait for the liberation of human potential that’s got to come when one half of the human race does not live in fear of the other. Where we can wear what we want and love who we like with no anticipation of violence.”

Controversial blogger-turned-proper-journalist Laurie Penny has published a second book. It is a brutal dissection of gender roles in the post-economic crisis internet age; and a vive la revolution call to make change and commit “mutiny” on all levels of the patriarchal system. In the introduction, Penny asserts that she cannot offer answers and absolute truths, but she is prepared to ask the uncomfortable questions from which others shy away.

60 Second Review: Maleficent


Mara Bragagnolo gives us her thoughts on the latest Disney opus.


I went to see Maleficent tonight and encountered many unexpected things.

First of all, how can Angelina Jolie can be even more beautiful than the usual? I thought she was already the maximum human natural beauty but apparently with yellow eyes and some snake skin wrapped around her head she looks even better. But that’s beside the point.

We know the story of Sleeping Beauty and we know Disney. At least that’s what I thought, but this movie surprised me. [ALARM BELLS: if you are one of the few people who don’t already know the story, I’m going to spoil the movie so stop reading at this point if you don’t want to know this to happen.]

Review: Miss Julie


Lucy Brouwer reviews Strindberg’s Miss Julie, currently running at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre.


A gap in the Citz schedule inspired artistic director Dominic Hill to stage Zinnie Harris’ 2006 adaption of Swedish playwright August Strinberg’s groundbreaking 1888 play Miss Julie. Strindberg’s original was considered a radically naturalistic new kind of theatre, interested in how the characters actions are understood in terms of the influences and experiences that have altered them. Also, as Zinnie Harris observes in her Writer’s Note, the play is about sex and the consequences of that sex for people trapped by their circumstance.

Review: Peggy Sue, Choir of Echoes


Bailey Constas talks about Choir of Echoes, the latest LP from Brighton indie-rock / anti-folk band Peggy Sue.


Minimalistic yet full, Peggy Sue’s new album Choir of Echoes, is an exercise in restraint and release. Lead single Idle layered sounds and inventive harmonies create a balanced and soulful sound. Emotions throughout the album ebb between dark, complex sentiments and clear cut conclusions.

Networking Ladies: Going to a Girl Geek Scotland Dinner


Sophie Kromholz shares her experiences of the recent Girl Geek Scotland event.


It’s taken me a while to write this article. I was struggling with figuring out what my take was on the past Girl Geek Scotland (GGS) event after Glasgow University generously offered me a spot at the recent GGS dinner in Edinburgh. Girl Geek Scotland, founded in 2008, is a Scottish chapter of Girl Geek Dinners, founded in 2005, with the aim of challenging (gender) stereotypes and forging and nurturing contacts between individuals working in various fields including technology, digital media, business and creativity. It’s a decidedly pro-women pursuit which fosters support, collaboration and community for advancement.

The dinners are a networking event in which high profile ladies come and share their experiences in the professional world and various girl (and critically also boy!) geeks are offered the chance to network and establish useful contacts. In a lot of ways, GGS is trying to level out the professional playing field – an interest shared by TYCI. I was excited and jumped at the chance to go and meet cool people working in various creative entrepreneurial posts.

Review – Wadjda (****)


Imogen Marcus reviews Wadjda, the latest film from Haifaa Al-Mansour.

∗∗∗∗ (4/5 stars)

The stated goal of Saudi-Arabian film-maker Haifaa Al-Mansour, director of new film Wadjda, is to put a human face on Saudi culture, rather than expose it. She has more than succeeded in this aim with  Wadjda, a brilliant depiction of one young woman’s life in Saudi-Arabia that leaves you wanting to know more about the country.

It stars Waad Mohammed as the eponymous Wadjda, a 10-year old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. She is independently-minded, funny, mischievous and outspoken in a society where even voicing an opinion as a woman can be seen as a controversial act. The driver of the plot is that Wadjda wants to buy a bike, but has neither the cash nor the permission in conservative Riyadh, where girls do not ride bikes. ‘You won’t be able to have children if you ride a bike’, her mother tells her.

Unfazed, she enters a Qur’an-reading competition to raise the funds to buy a particular green bike she has set her heart on. Meanwhile, there is trouble at home; although her parents are nominally married, her father does not live with her and her mother, and there are whispers that his family are arranging another marriage for him.