by John Herdman
The absurd, the grotesque, Thomas Clapperton, hypochondriac, egomaniac, Scotsman, misanthrope, misogynist, menagerie keeper ... has a date.
His romantic rendezvous is with the girl across the road, Trudy Otter. Although Trudy only has an incestuous eye for her brother, Rex.
The most dysfunctional of all beings rub against each other in the desperate search for human happiness in John Herdman's gothic miserene, Clapperton.
Also in this volume, The Devil and Dr Tuberose. The bombastically unbalanced Dr Marcus Tuberose battles a legless infantry of demons until he finally confronts the devil himself, embodied in the family dog of his blessed colleagues.
A story of transgressive madness from the master of the Scottish Gothic, John Herdman.
Two tales of the mania, derangement and the psychopathy peculiar to the Caledonian Antisyzygy. Brace yourself for hilarity, ridicule and an exquisite dose of oddity.
* * *
"Perhaps in the very combination of opposites — what either of the two Thomases, of Norwich and Cromarty, might have been willing to call "the Caledonian antisyzygy" — we have a reflection of the contrasts which the Scot shows at every turn... we need not be surprised to find that in their literature the Scots present two aspects which appear contradictory. Oxymoron was ever the bravest figure, and we must not forget that disorderly order is order after all."
G. GREGORY SMITH, Scottish Literature: Character and Influence
"I was struck by Herdman's wry, philosophical bent, his acute sense of place and perception and anguish at the plight of the human condition .... But despite the pitch darkness and seriousness of his themes, Herdman is an appealing writer, with a clipped, laconic and lugubrious wit, capable of swiftly etching a scene .... goodness knows why John Herdman is not much better known than he is."
Alan Taylor, The Sunday Herald
"Herdman's writing is a feat of great wit and invention."
Scotland on Sunday
"It is a tribute to Herdman's writing that he evokes so many writers without ever seeming to imitate them .. the quality of Herdman's fantastic imaginings commands respect."
"John Herdman skilfully treads a vertiginous edge between satiric comedy and high seriousness."
"..... both delightful and remarkable .... John Herdman uses language like a virtuoso."
Isobel Murray, Scottish Educational Journal
"Mr Herdman's psychological ingenuity remains extraordinary ... there are moments when, transferred to Scotland they sound something like Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground"".
The Glasgow Herald
"Comedy brilliantly essayed ... a potent portrayer of the grotesque."
Cuthbert Graham, Press & Journal
Scottish International, November 1972
In Memoirs of my Aunt Minnie / Clapperton, Rainbow Books, Aberdeen, 1974
Extended and revised version:
In Three Novellas, Polygon Books, Edinburgh, 1987
In The Devil and the Giro: Two Centuries of Scottish Stories, ed. Carl MacDougall, Canongate, Edinburgh, 1991
In Four Tales, Zoilus Press, London, 2000
[“A Practical Joke”, published in Chapman 26, Spring 1980, was incorporated into the extended version]
The Devil and Dr Tuberose
Chapman 58, Autumn 1989
Beloit Fiction Journal (Wisconsin), Vol. 5, No. 1 (Scottish Writers), Fall 1989
In The Devil and Dr Tuberose: Scottish Short Stories 1991, HarperCollins, London, 1991
In Hungarian translation (Az ördög és Dr Tuberose), in Marilynne várva: Mai skót novellák, Pannonia Könyvek, 1998
In The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows, ed. Marjorie Sandor, St Martin’s Press, New York, 2015