‘Three Craws‘ is the debut novel by Scottish singer-songwriter James Yorkston. Published by the truly magnificent Freight Books, this is a novel that follows Johnny, a failed artist, as he returns to St Andrews to visit his childhood friend Stevie.
I read somewhere that ‘Three Craws’ wasn’t written for the literary elite that resides in London, and I absolutely agree. And that is BRILLIANT. I do enjoy literary fiction, don’t get me wrong, but this book cuts and reveals what life is really like in a small, cold Scottish town. The farm doesn’t hide secrets (except when it does), and it isn’t the story of how Johnny comes to appreciate the beautiful life he left behind when he moved to London (except when it kind-of is). Basically – the shit smells like shit (and there’s a lot of it in this book), and I love it.
The characters aren’t just characters – I’ve met these people. Between them, the three main characters make up most of the personalities of my Scottish relatives. Practical, a bit bonkers, and fond of a tipple (or two). They appeared so vividly in my mind, which is something that doesn’t often happen. I could imagine them so easily bombing about St Andrews, and it really endeared them to me. Down on their luck, but just carrying on, drinking good whiskey whilst they have it.
I don’t often laugh out loud at books – but the dark, quintessentially Scottish humour of ‘Three Craws’ had me cackling. Every situation is just on that side of not-too-miserable that makes it absolutely hilarious. This isn’t a gritty look at the ironies of life, but just the story of three blokes who are just living their lives. Johnny is the perfect narrator for this, because he can be introspective, but he can also so clearly see the funny side of making terrible soup for his new employer, or riding a falling-apart motorbike down a C Road.
In conclusion? Put the quietly wailing literary fiction down, and for a delightfully mad look at the mundanity of life, pick ‘Three Craws’ up.
My review of another Freight publication can be found here.