What is a Review?

The Scottish Left Review invites review submissions. The subject may be a book, an album, an art exhibition or a performance, but equally it might be a speech, event, or any place, scenario or idea that inclines you to say something in response. A review’s subject is sometimes just a starting-point, a launch-pad or a landing place from which to explore a different point or share a wider vision.

Reviews often do the work of pointing out the radical resonances of something that tend to go unheard, even by those who listen for the chimes of freedom. Certain parts of a play or piece of music might ring true for you but leave others hollow. Reviews are media for urging others to tune into a sound that does not at first feel very friendly or familiar to them. They create discussion in ways that setting out political stalls can never do. The reviews that we publish are underpinned by principles that make sense to those struggling to make a better world. That’s what makes them left.

One of the sharpest editors in Scotland’s recent past, Leigh French, recently passed away. He edited the magazine Variant between 1996 and 2012. In ‘Me, Myself and I’, he wrote about how important it is for people on the left ‘to write on anything other than themselves’. Leigh was writing about how difficult it is, in our market-driven and careerist culture that capitalism spawns, to see things not through a self-oriented prism but through the vision of communities and common interests. Write about the work of others instead of your own. Don’t always make yourself, your sense and situation and status, into the central subject. And of course, eviscerate ideas, institutions, and individuals – but strive to do so with generosity, camaraderie, curiosity and, that most radical of motives, love.

A tribute to Leigh French by Variant’s editorial collective will soon be published on our website.