‘The Wireless Set’ by George Mackay Brown

Like most of George Mackay Brown’s work‘The Wireless Set’ is set on Orkney, and begins when the first wireless set arrives in 1939, presented by Howie to his mother. Howie tells her it speaks the truth; his father, old Hugh, is less convinced, citing an inaccurate weather report as evidence. When the war begins, the wireless is at first a source of news for the village, but after accidentally tuning into Lord Haw Haw they become fascinated by his lies. The story ends with news of Howie’s death and its final pages are among the most moving I have ever read.

First published in A Time to Keep, Hogarth Press, 1969, republished by Polygon in 2015

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