underrated the case for Gordon Legge

There's an Edinburgh-based writer who's now written three books cataloguing "schemie" culture in Scotland. Books depicting the dead-end aimlessness of lives lived on the margins, whose predominantly male cast find escape in drink, dope and a day at the footie.

Those of you thinking Irvine Welsh, take 10 demerits. Welsh now lives in Amsterdam, thanks to the success of Trainspotting and its two successors. Gordon Legge, on the other hand, has yet to give up the day job (as a nursing assistant at Edinburgh's Royal Psychiatric Hospital).

While Welsh, Duncan McLean and Alan Warner are all feted by publishers in London, profiled in lifestyle magazines and hailed as the future of British fiction by the critics, Legge remains anchored to the tiny Edinburgh publisher, Polygon Press, earning advances equivalent to the price of a London working lunch. Underrated isn't the word for it - try unknown.

All of which shows the importance of timing and luck in establishing a literary career. For Legge was hacking away at the seam marked "the modern male Scottish psyche" long before Welsh and co had found the coalmine. His first book, The Shoe, published in 1989, dissects with comic accuracy life in small-town Scotland in the middle of that decade. Relishing the vigour of central Scottish vernacular (the book is set in the author's home town, Grangemouth), Legge revealed himself as the firstborn of James Kelman's "bairns", free to discard standard English for dialect. Unlike Kelman, however, Legge viewed pop culture as more important than politics. The Shoe is crammed with an almost fetishistic cataloguing of favourite records, films and football players - imagine if Nick Hornby supported Falkirk rather than Arsenal (another literary career Legge beat to the ball, but not the prize).

For Strathclyde University's Professor of English Literature and sometime pop journalist, Simon Frith, The Shoe is the finest fictional evocation of what it's like to be a fan, and rather better than Hornby's much praised recent novel, High Fidelity. The inclusion of an extract from The Shoe in the recent Faber Book of Pop, suggests the editors, Hanif Kureshi and Jon Savage, agree. Legge's most recent book, I Love Me (Who Do You Love?) continues to investigate the same milieu as The Shoe and his collection of short stories entitled In Between Talking About the Football. The characters are older, now struggling with lousy jobs and parenthood, but Legge maintains the same elements of comedy and soap opera. It's a book full of hippies, school kids, dole kids, office workers and media students, all drawn with Legge's characteristic generosity of humour.

Maybe that's Legge's problem. He's just not dark enough to be successful. Certainly, he's never as extreme as his contemporaries. There's none of those almost Tarantinoesque moments where horror and hilarity fuse, so characteristic of Trainspotting.

Instead, Legge's style is more redolent of the one writer he names as an influence. He's a straight, Scottish version of Armistead Maupin, with a permanent seat at the bar. And while, for many of us, the lifestyles chronicled in Trainspotting are alien, Legge's books will leave many post- adolescent males whispering "That's me! That's me!".

TEDDY JAMIESON

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine