Monday, October 16, 2006


First off -- I called the British Consulate and asked the Deputy British Consul-General in Vancouver, audibly Scots Mr. Andy Newlands, for the correct pronunciation of the Laidlaw author's name. He supported classfellow K.'s "M'cILLvanney -- but not because of the "Mc" versus "Mac", but rather the double "N". The alternative spelling "McIllvaney" is pronounced MACillVNy.

Update: But stop the presses -- a Scots old-timer here has just told me that William McIlvanney was writer-in-residence here in the early nineteen-eighties, and the pronuciation is MACillVNy.
Update II: Our Department's Scottish Studies expert, Dr. Leith Davis, confirms MACillVANy.

Second, great work last Tuesday identifying so many of the elements of Laidlaw that deliberately set it in the American crime genre.

  • harsh, sparse and colloquial prose.
  • Smart Cop set against Stupid System
  • an underworld setting.
  • fascination bordering on glorification of Mobbery.
  • wise but jaded senior cop partnered with callow rookie.
  • unconventional and individualist detective techniques prevail (originating in Dostoevsky but known popularly as the Columbo model)

Add any additional tropes in the comments section ....

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