[lit-ideas] Re: Scotish literature

  • From: "Kahn, Rupert" <R.D.Kahn@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 17:40:53 +0100


I meant Robin Jenkins not Jarvis.  Robin Jarvis writes an entirely
different kind of book.


-----Original Message-----
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Kahn, Rupert
Sent: 10 June 2006 00:03
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Scotish literature

I've just finished reading Just Duffy by Robin Jarvis and it made me
think of Andy's misanthropy and John's comment on optimism and
literature and then Erin says she's off to Scotland. Synchronicity.

The book is very dark indeed opening with a 16 year old Duffy being
abandoned by his mother who is off for a "trial honeymoon" with her
prospective husband.  There'll be no place for him, she warns, if the
trial is a success and marriage follows.  

The novel follows Duffy over the next few days as he declares war on
hypocrisy accompanied by a small circle of delinquent acquaintances and
watched over by his neighbours and by the great and good of Lightburn, a
small town near Glasgow. Duffy's campaign and its consequences provide a
gripping plot and at some point almost everybody behaves badly according
either to the standards of the community or the standards they set
themselves.  Children are shown struggling into adulthood in a punitive
environment where prostitution, physical abuse and neglect are normal.
I'm not giving much away by saying that things end badly.  

And yet when I put the book down I wasn't depressed by it.  The book has
an optimistic core which I think has to do with its literary character.
All the time that Duffy and some of the other characters make choices
and judgements I made my own judgements reading.   Or rather Jarvis led
me to where I would accept the positive humanity of his most lumpen

There is also humour in the grimness.  A fantastic cameo from a
horrifically snobbish woman at a funeral who harrumphs because a dustbin
man is allowed to speak, indifferent that he was a friend of the
deceased, and a policeman who might have been modelled on Sergeant Howie
in the Wicker Man as played by Edward Woodward. (Not to be confused with
the forthcoming Nick Cage version of the Wicker Man whose policeman
will, I have read, carry rosary beads and not be a virgin). The
distinctive character of Scottish English is a pleasure too, oxters for
armpits and houghmagandy for dirty sex.

Has anyone else read Jarvis?

Rupert Kahn

To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html
To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts: