On the fringes of society, the characters of Bernard MacLaverty's stories are forced to seek consolation as best they can. A lonely old lady resorts to posting a monthly letter to herself; a retired policeman and a cornet-player, captivated by a young flautist, seeks oblivion in drink. In a shabby world, some simply suffer unseen- a sword-swallower, once immortalised by Matisse, sustains a fatal wound before an unheeding, drunken audience; a parish priest slips into death in the cold solitude of his church. Others find unexpected forms of expression- a young boy sheds the shame of his psoriasis through friendship with an eccentric duchess, and a poem provides a tenuous link between two inarticulate strangers. Long-term relationships can lead to a new understanding- a famous architect and his son becomes aware of a bond of mutual affection despite the gult between them in attitudes and values.
Bernard MacLaverty was born in Belfast in 1942. He worked as a lab technician in the anatomy department at Queen's University for 10 years before studying English and training as a teacher. In 1975 he went to live in Scotland with his wife, Madeline, and their four children. MacLaverty has published five collections of short stories - Secrets, A Time to Dance, The Great Profondo, Walking the Dog and Matters of Life & Death - and four novels: Lamb, Cal, The Anatomy School and Grace Notes, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award. He has written for radio, television and screen. His short film Bye Child won a BAFTA. He lives in Glasgow.