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Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

"Our Fathers" by Andrew O'Hagan

Hugh ‘Mr Housing’ Bawn lies dying on the 18th floor of one of the tower blocks in Ayrshire which, as Municipal Planner, he helped to build. His grandson Jamie who demolishes tower blocks in England, is with him for his final months. Jamie’s alcoholic, wife-beating father Robert, has disappeared.

This book, written in crisp and original elegiac prose, explores the relationship between Jamie, Robert and Hugh and their women. It explores modern Scotland and the lives blighted by poverty, unemployment, alcohol and the built environment. It seeks to redeem the heroes of the sixties who built this urban landscape in the name of progress and with the vision of escaping from worse poverty and the worse housing of the Glasgow tenement slums. If there is a poetry of the assembly line this book describes it. If there is nobility lurking within the wife-beating drunk, this book finds it. The images of girls in hair nets at superstore checkouts beside roads from an auld village centre to nowhere are haunting. Drunks quote poetry (alright, it is Burns so it is mostly doggerel) in the working men’s club. History is just beneath the surface whether it is the bell tower of the church mentioned in Tam O’Shanter or the monastery where Robert Bruce murdered Red Comyn (now a supermarket) or the housing estate all of whose Drives are named for a forgotten Scottish Socialist.

And there is comedy. Jamie meets his mum’s mates and they try to chat him up. He watches Gaelic breakfast TV with his Gran (the only people in the world who watch it, he believes) and questions the credibility of the item on swimwear fashion in Uist.

A remarkable book, full of the romance and dignity of everyday poverty.

July 2011; 282 pages

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