Book #12

Marabou Stork Nightmares by Irvine Welsh

Roy Strang is engaged is a strange quest in a surrealist South Africa. His mission is to eradicate the evil predator-scavenger bird, the marabou stork, before it drives away the peace-loving flamingo from the picturesque Lake Torto. But behind this world lies another: the world of Roy's bizarre family, the Scottish housing scheme in which he grew up, his mundane job, a disastrous emigration to Aftrica, and his youthful life of brutality with a gang of soccer casuals. As one world crashes into the other, this potentially charming story of ornithological goodwill mutates into a filthy tale of violence, abuse and redemption.

I'm a massive Irvine Welsh fan, and Marabou Stork Nightmares is one of my favourites. It's incredibly raw, brutal and disturbing, the characters are all horribly real people, all of whom you know in real life, but wish you didn't.

It's told from the perspective of Roy Strang - a man in a coma, and flits between his hallucinations of a life in South Africa hunting Marabou Storks, what's happening around him in hospital, and his memories of his life. It's wonderfully executed using a non-traditional format, such as changes in typeface, to make you feel that you're drifting in and out of awareness of different worlds with Roy. These layers kept me incredibly engaged and continually intrigued throughout the entire novel.

It's definitely not a book for the faint of heart. Difficult subject matter, or gore, has never really bothered me in a book, but I know of people who have stopped reading halfway through, or even binned the book, because of the awful things that go on inside it. You feel a bit dirty after you've finished.

12 / 66 books. 18% done!