Learning How To Be Scottish in America
by Aefa Mulholland
On realising she’s losing her Scottishness after 20 years away from home, an ex-pat Scot persuades perplexed Americans to help her become 100% Scottish again. She tries Scottish country dancing in Hawaii and bagpipe lessons in Louisiana, learns Scottish Gaelic on a ranch full of cats in Texas and plays golf for the first time, on a rattlesnake-infested desert course in Arizona—learning what it means to be Scottish, what it means to be Scottish-American and what it means to be at home so far from home.
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You can also pop in to various fine places in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Toronto and get a copy.
There’s a book trailer on YouTube, which features me rambling on about the book. It mentions motorized poultry and flower-decked llamas.
“Hilarious… Enjoy a great travelogue and human interest tale of small towns and big people enjoying their own tartan heavens all over America.”
The Daily Record
“Very funny and entertaining… Too many books about Scotland as po-faced and serious as my own are craving attention. [The Scottish Ambassador] will amuse readers of every political stripe and will be popular with both Scots patriots and their critics.”
Alasdair Gray, author of Lanark
“Welcome to the USA – the United Scots of America – as chronicled by [Aefa Mulholland], a Glasgow-born author who has spent four years documenting the good, the bad and the crazy subcultures of our expats across the pond.”
The Sunday Mail
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MORE ON THE BOOK
When she moved from Scotland to America aged 19, Aefa Mulholland had never gone to a Highland Games, spoken Scottish Gaelic or played golf. Or worn a kilt or feather bonnet. Or thought about swapping the grumpy old tabby for a Scottie dog, gone Nessie-spotting or played the bagpipes. Or done so many of the things so often expected of Scots overseas. She did plenty of entertaining things growing up in Glasgow, but those antics and outfits tended not to feature tartan or make it onto postcards. Aefa’s Scotland was grittier. It was down-to-earth. It threw pizzas into deep-fat fryers. And she never felt it lacking… until now, 20 years later, when she realises her Scottishness is fading.
She sets out to shore up her Scottishness and face her fear of bagpipes and dread of organized social dancing, travelling from Florida to Washington State and New York City to Honolulu, meeting the kind, compelling and kooky characters that inhabit Scottish-America.
She struggles through a Scottish Gaelic immersion weekend on a ranch full of cats in Texas, plays golf on a rattlesnake-infested sand course in a trailer park in Arizona and is perplexed by the proliferation of cloaks and dragon puppets at her first Highland Games in Oregon. She visits Chicago’s Scottish Retirement Home to learn the secrets of “The Scottish Way,” has tea with Hawaii’s freshly elected Scot of the Year and is as confused as the passing New Yorkers by the annual Tartan Day Parade. She catches caber tosses, Scotch tastings and sheepdog demonstrations from the Pacific to the Mississippi, tries to claim Elvis for the Scots and finds herself deep in backwoods Georgia with a hundred Scottie dogs.
In every corner of the country she is met with warmth and kindness—and by perplexed Americans, confused as to why a Scottish-born Scot can’t recognize her clan colours or muster even a “Good Morning” in Gaelic.
From the early days of the quest till its final steps, Aefa explores what it means to be Scottish, what it means to be Scottish-American and what it means to be at home so far away from home.