Friday, 1 July 2011
An ambivalent 1995 review from the Observer
"Welsh's second novel switches, with the aid of some nifty typography, between three connected worlds. Brought up in an Edinburgh 'scheme' ('a concentration camp for the poor'), its narrator Roy Strang now lies in a deep coma. The novel shuffles his past in a 'genetic disaster' of a family with a blurred present of visits from nurses and relatives quest through an imaginary Africa, hunting the titular bird. This 'despicable beast' comes to stand for all the cruelty Roy has soaked up and dished out in his time."
...and a librarian's take on it
"On a technical level this is really brilliant work. It surfs between the heavy Scottish accent and the more refined speech of Roy and Sandy, which is comically precise in it’s elocution and very much The Queen’s English. Roy is not by any means stupid, or an oaf, or unaware of what he himself is doing and that only serves to drive the point home.
This is overall a very interesting read, consistent and true to the narrative parameters it sets up. It’s not for the shiny, happy crowd, but if you like your stories dark, gothic, smart and intriguing – then this is a good choice."
Plus - for further reading on one aspect - a review of a book on Hibs Casuals:
"I grew up in Leith and as a Hibby on the very outer fringes of the cashie scene, I was keen to read this. A great book in my opinion that I believe captures the essence of what went on back then. I don't believe the book is distorted to 'big up' the CCS and the authors have done well to keep it balanced - detailing the highs as well as the lows. I know people -honest people - intimately involved in several of the events detailed within this book and they correlate with DD's account.This book was a welcomed trip back down memory lane and brought back some good, if not rose-tinted, memories."