Paperbacks: Hellfire and Herring, by Christopher Rush

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The Independent Culture

From the lubricious ranting of a preacher ("Copulation is friction of the member") to the bunches of fish "dangling like dumb silver bells from my grandfather's finger", Rush recalls his Forties childhood on the east coast of Scotland in language that is fresh, lively and resonant. It was a place "crawling with weirdoes" – literally so, in the case of one Bowfter Sandy, who would "get down on all fours biting people's ankles" – where supernatural perceptions were as much a part of everyday existence as constellations, darned socks and sea urchins. This book is tinged with a dark, chilly magic.