There is something endearing about this debut. It starts out as a raucous black comedy full of oddly dysfunctional characters but develops into a poignant tale about family and growing up in a small town in Northern Britain. It's a novel that oozes both the desperation and foolhardiness of youth. Bobby Cassidy and his mates start 'Heatwave' disco because there's bugger all else for them to do and just as they're getting somewhere with the idea they lose interest because it's too much trouble.
The opposite happened with me and this book.
Characterisation is the author's strongpoint so if the likes of Fat Franny Duncan and Wullie the Painter don't entice you, perhaps Hobnail and Tony Palomino (curiously there are various characters with this name on Google…) will.
There are some genuine 'laugh out loud' moments, not least in the pathetic antics of Fat Franny and his gang. Scottish dialect is handled convincingly and does not hinder the telling of the story at all. It really disnae!
Ross levers the various plot-twists and turns effectively. He also knows his music and the numerous references give the book authenticity. You will be thumbing through old records (or the modern day equivalent) as a result of reading this novel.
Various interspersed statements from members of the Thatcher Government and other speeches combine with news items to further anchor the story in its time whilst also demonstrating how far removed that political world is/was from goings on in Kilmarnock, until it comes to selecting the men who have to put the actions of politicians into words…
It's good stuff.
Who would have believed this much could happen in a place like Kilmarnock?
Shakin' Stevens anybody?