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JAMES ROBERTSON - Michael Marra: Arrest This Moment 

JAMES ROBERTSON - Michael Marra: Arrest This Moment 
Big Sky Press ISBN: 9780956957863 

This is a remarkable book by a remarkable author about a remarkable, multi-talented, loving and much-loved, determined, deeply thoughtful and somewhat driven perfectionist, who died far too soon. On top of all that, and crucially, he was a Dundonian. A Dundonian to the marrow as James Robertson tells us.

It is nigh on impossible to think of another author who could have written it. Robertson modestly states that he knew Michael Marra well but others knew him better. There can’t be many of those outwith his family because he and Michael talked, discussed and argued for hours in Robertson’s kitchen. Most of the book is based on memories of those conversations, Marra’s performances, albums and art, and interviews with many folk who knew him. As befits a man with a doctorate, Robertson also took information from many other written and recorded sources, some provided by Marra’s family.

It is a very readable book, and scholarly, as a biography should be, complete with footnotes, a discography and a list of Marra’s shows, plays, films and the like. But only a Scottish novelist, and a major one at that, could have produced it. The biographical chapters on Marra’s life, career and his varied work, are interspersed with nine ‘Kitchen Conversations’ between James and Michael, largely as if he were still alive, based up to a point on memory but actually quasi-fictional while entirely true to their subject.

I knew Michael Marra a little and this heart warming book makes me wish I had known him much, much better.

Frank Bechhofer

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.