The Celestial Café – Review

The Celestial Café by Stuart Murdoch

The Celestial Café invites readers into the whimsical musings of Belle and Sebastian’s front man, Stuart Murdoch, as he bumbles around life penning his thoughts for the band’s blog.

The book is written in the format of a diary with sporadic entries from Murdoch, spanning across a period of 4 years around the recording of the Dear Catastrophe Waitress Record, illustrated with chunky graphics novel style pictures by Graham Samuels.

Murdoch’s authorship shows that he is as much of a talented writer as he is a musician, his choice of words reflecting a similar nature to the lyrics of a Belle and Sebastian song.

The first entry dates back to 2002, in which Murdoch modestly debates who would want to read his writing. This self deprecation continues throughout, with the author describing himself at one point as all “plastic bags and goggles”, illustrating his skill at creating visual metaphors.

He is very much an outsider, an observer, finding the extraordinary in the mundane, creating an accumulation of thoughts about the places he is in ranging from Glasgow to the USA.

Everything is brought down to the minute, describing women on his road in their dressing gowns at 8pm or tarmacking taking place outside his Glaswegian house.

The most fascinating aspects of the book are when Murdoch goes into great detail about the situations that brought the songs we all love to listen to into existence.

He debates with a fan over the context of religion in If Your Feeling Sinister and the sensation of couples returning home from work resulted in the catchy ‘Step Into My Office Baby’.

Murdoch’s humble tone reflects that Belle and Sebastian are worlds apart from the typical rock-and-roll biographies that other musicians have penned. If you are wanting tales of debauchery and the heady rock-star lifestyle you will not find it here. Instead you will find Murdoch’s descriptions of how the band prepare for a gig – coaxing ‘Default Indie Rockers’ to join them in a game of Photo Jenny Frisbee in chic silver rain-macs.

If you are not a keen Belle and Sebastian fan, I cannot see it being your particular cup of Tigermilk. At times it can be a struggle to read, with there being no specific plot or storyline, reading more like a gentle bobbing-along of Murdoch’s innermost thoughts. But for the more avid fan the book will confirm a love for Murdoch and all things Belle and Sebastian, worth far more than The Price of a Cup of Tea.

7/10

Alexandra Rucki

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