URBAN COMEDY Itchycooblue
Des Dillon (Review £9.99) Des Dillon wants to make lots of money. Hardly a crime, and completely understandable : considering his austere and often ; violent Coatbridge upbringing. Now with his fourth book in the bag (another two in the pipeline) and film offers oozing his way, he is acutely aware of how he wants his bread buttered. ‘In the telly world you get treated like a pauper and paid like a king and in the literary world you get treated like a king and paid like a pauper.’
A pauper and indeed criminal life seemed the way ahead from the start for Dillon. It’s hardly overstating the case to say that literature may well have saved his life. Hans Christian Andersen helped Dillon along the literary path, only for him to ditch it all for a period of petty crime and solvent abuse. 'I was a white-haired altar boy, got to twelve and then went mental.’
Up until the age of eighteen, he was more likely to rip open a summons letter than tear into the
works of Plato, as he was to do later at Strathclyde University.
Des Dillon: scratching the surface
Teaching followed and then the writing. Drawing deeply on his own childhood and early adult experiences, Me An Ma Gal, The Big Empty and Duck (recently broadcast as a Tartan Short starring Peter Mullan) have brought praise, from both the critics and his peers.
With a bigger publisher now backing him, Itchycooblue should ensure further coverage. And those inevitable comparisons. Already, the daunting figure of James Joyce has loomed - The Big Empty being described as 'a Coatbridge Dubliners (Edwin Morgan)
. and Me An Ma Gal as ’not since Ulysses . . . have I come
across such a satisfying evocation of a single day' (George Gunn).
And now, with ltchycooblue’s on-the-page littering of phonetics, symbols, typographical and illustrated tomfoolery, that Joycean aesthetic will again be raised.
Dillon is ready for it. ’I think my whole style of writing is Irish rather than Scottish,’ insists the man who named his cat Finnegan. ’In a Scottish novel, if a fairy walks across the room, they'll spend three or four pages philosophising about it. In an Irish novel, it’ll be like "oh there's a fairy," "oh, is it?" '
That simple storytelling continues here with this tale of childhood friendship against a backdrop of grotesque physical violence and the imminent death of a parent. All the narrator feels will make everything better is to bring a moorhen’s egg home to his father. ‘There's closure, though it's not exactly a happy ending.’ Something Des Dillon seems set to enjoy.
I Itchycooblue is published on Thu 4 Feb. Des Dillon will be appearing at Borders, Glasgow, 7pm; James Thin, Edinburgh, Thu II Feb, 7pm.
CONTEMPORARY FICTION Candyﬂoss Martyrs
Graham Lironi (Black Ace Books £M9w****
Glasgow-based writer and muso Graham Lironi is not about to subvert the image of young Scottish fiction as extreme and in-yer—gob. Mild-mannered readers out there will feel considerably less meek after a few evenings spent in the company of his disturbing yet seductive second novel Candyfloss Martyrs.
Obscene and entrancing, the follow—up to his notoriously blasphemous debut The Bowe/s Of Christ leads a merry dance with the mind, luring you into a world of dubious sex and power games between characters carefully draped in individual shrouds of mystery.
Flitting between Glasgow and the north of Scotland, Lironi sets up a curious chain of links between movie
star Mitchell Millar, his biggest fan Scott 0. Short, his Svengali MacGregor, the incompetent hack Mo No and a character disarmineg referred to throughout as ’you'. When Millar dies in a car crash, ’y0u’ seduces Short and leads him to l‘vlacGregor's Highland lair where various p0ison0us secrets emerge with satisfying regularity.
In turns erotic and stomach-churning, it has the pace, intensity and cultural referencing of a literary Pulp Fiction; but behind the flashy writing lies a brilltq indictment of the nature of lame and power that marks Lironi out as a genuine talent.
His only downfall is his love affair wrth elaborate language. The first twenty pages are extremely hard work and at times it's hard to tell if such heavrly embrordered prose adds or detracts from
the novel’s attraction. That aside, the
new bad boy of Scottish fiction is misbehaving very well indeed. (Ellie Carr)
Putting debut authors under the microscope. This issue: Douglas Lindsay
Who he? Douglas Lindsay is a 34-year-old Civil servant w0rking for the MOD in Somerset. He was born in Lanarkshire, graduated from the University of Glasgow and gets his haircut every three or four weeks. He wrote his debut novel whilst unemployed in Senegal, 'one of the few countries in the world never to have beaten Scotland at iootball,’ as it is noted in the book's author-biog.
His debut It’s called The Long Midnight Of Barney Thomson and tells the very black tale of an ageing and frustrated Glasgow barber, Barney Thomson, who harboms a murderous loathing of his colleagues and customers While he formulates his fiendish plans, a serial killer is gorng round the crty murdering,
' dismembering and mailing body parts to
Basically Basacally, its a page-turning Sweeney Toclcl-esci;ie romp which replaces l'leet Street :wtl‘. Partick. The novel's catchline is 'Black humour. Bloody murder. And no kissing.’ lt's caught the eye of Scottish Screens James Lee and Michael Reset, the producer of Waters/rip Down who have bought the film rights for a six figure sum
First line test 'Breasts ’
Cast Barney Thomson, los;nc_; customers anci his marbles l.'I eciaal l‘lOpOlilOﬂ, Wuliie and Chris, i:.s younger and more .succ essiul compacires in the cort'feur business; Cemolina Thomson, Barney's 85-year-old mum and encouragement to his darker thoughts, Agnes, his wrfe who no longer listens to hint, concentrating instead on the Austranan soap spewrng constantly from their telly, Detective Chief lnspector Robert Holdall whose ability to crack ’he criirte rs hindered by the infighting and pornt-scoring in his department.
Best bit The cart; and somewhat improbable revelation of the serial killer. (Brian Donaldson)
It The Long r’vr’ici‘night Of Barrie; Thomson is published by l’ratkus at [6.99.
4—18 Feb 1999 THE “ST”