Likely to die laughing

You should read the Herald Scotland’s career review of Alasdair Gray for a few reasons. First among them, is paragraph number two.

It’s a bit clunky in places – he could have whittled, spat and polished his sentences a little more – but let’s not hold that against Alan Taylor. This is the best description of someone’s laugh I’ve read for (well actually I can’t remember another one).

Here it goes:

No one laughs like Alasdair Gray. When he laughs, which is often, his whole body vibrates as if in the grip of an electric shock. The sound that comes out of him is infectious and primitive, such as that, say, of some yet-to-be-identified animal in the throes of making love in the dead of an African night. It goes round the room, like the trilling of a soprano, inspiring awe. Where on earth does it come from? Slowly it fades away as the breath is sucked out of him, as well it might be, because Gray is asthmatic. This, you can’t help thinking, is a man who could actually die laughing. It ends wheezily, with a few laboured puffs and pants, like a runner duty-bound to give an interview immediately after the race of his life. He is spent, spluttering, speechless. He has laughed himself to a standstill.

What I like about it is, just when it seems to be getting purplish and out of control, he throws in a joke. Quite a funny one too: ‘Slowly it fades away as the breath is sucked out of him, as well it might be, because Gray is asthmatic.’

Anyway, what this post goes to prove is that this getting up at 5am lark has achieved something. I wanted now to say something intelligent and enthusiastic about Lanark, but realised I can’t really remember it. (Maybe it’s got a brilliant description of someone’s laugh in it.) Which is terrible. So – if nothing else – therebeforelight has achieved the honour of making me re-read it. Which you all should too.

And in lieu of intelligent, enthusiastic things to say about Lanark, I’m going to get on with some work now.

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~ by David Thorley on October 26, 2010.

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