The cover of this book describes it as an Autobiography but it is more of a collection of jottings in which MacKay Brown tells us exactly what he chooses to and refuses to allow us more than the wee-est of peeps into what he really thinks.
No harm in that and he is honest enough to admit that he was a very strange character indeed who lived with his mother in a council house in Orkney for most of his life, apart from several years in Edinburgh, and never formed a stable relationship with a woman.
"I never fell in love with anybody, and no woman ever fell in love with me," as he puts it. He then adds somewhat unconvincingly: "I used to wonder about this gap in my experience, but it never unduly worried me."
He also had serious problems with tuberculosis and submitted to Scotland's main illness, i.e. alcoholism although he survived them both.
At the same time, he misses the opportunity to share his experiences with the leading figures in the Scottish literary revival.
He socialized with writers like Hugh MacDiarmid whom he memorably describes as the "great king of Scottish letters" and "a kilted man with a terrier-head".
He drops a few comments on poets like Sydney Goodsir Smith and Norman MacCaig. However, we can only sigh in frustration at what we could have learned about this crowd of literary talent who gathered at the Abbotsford pub or Milne's Bar in Edinburgh all those decades ago.
I was quite interested in his comments on how he eventually converted to Catholicism from Presbyterianism, a road seldom travelled, particularly in the west coast of Scotland where I come from and where, alas, sectarianism is still rife.
Otherwise, much of his comments and views on literature and modern life are rather banal, apologetic and of little interest.
Having said that, I am sure admirers of MacKay Brown will enjoy this work.
There is a biography of him by Maggie Fergusson which fleshes out his bond with a woman in Edinburgh called Stella Cartwright whom he mentions in this book, thereby casting doubt on his claim never to have had any romantic relationship.