Saturday, 23 September 2017

Book #44

Hings by Chris McQueer


Peter’s earned his night off, and there’s not a bloody chance he’s covering Shelley’s shift. He just needs to find some pals for the perfect cover story. Deek is going to be at the forefront of the outsider art movement and do Banksy proud. Davie loves tattoos and his latest is going to be a masterpiece. Tam is one of the most creative minds in the galaxy (apparently), but creating parallel universes can cause problems. Everybody on Earth wakes up with their knees on backwards.
He caught folks’ imagination on Medium with his stories, had rooms howling with laughter on the spoken word circuit, and now it’s time to put Chris McQueer on the page. Are you ready?

What a fucking ride this was.

This collection of McQueer’s short stories is completely and utterly brilliant. Glaswegian working class norms, social custom, and patter rips right through the pages, and I was presented with characters the likes of whom I could bump into no bother on a stroll up Larky main gaff.

In some of the stories, McQueer explores the mindset of the working-class, their needs and desires, their family. All of this felt familiar and relevant, and I was almost comfortable with seeing Sammy get a samurai sword for his Christmas, because that’s just where am fae. In others, we are dropped right into the macabre, surreal, and downright random. We’re given aliens, budgies with arms, knees bending the wrong way, and hell mend yi if it’s a korma yir after.

Written using a great deal of colloquialism (which I know some of you plums can’t handle), but with some excellent prose weaved into it, McQueer really nailed this for me. His stories have been compared to Welsh, but this was totally different; a stark and realistic jaunt over to the West coast using this type of narrative is something I didn’t know I was looking for. 

I’ve read so many books now that it’s rare any make me laugh or cry these days. I read this over the course of a few days, with a red coupon from laughing too much each time.

A massive congratulations for a total stormer of a debut novel; now I’m looking for a full biography on Big Angie.

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