I enjoyed reading this at the time its darkness, humour, and willingness to reveal a different, warts and all view of island life Though I have to confess, many years on, not much of the story has stayed with me, the general sense of some of the darkness, humour and drinking that underpins a lot of island culture. My bookcrossing review I really enjoyed this book It was a very Scottish story, dealing with alcoholism and sub conscious self destruction, although this book really only looked at the way his soul was destroyed by alcohol abuse, whereas another Scottish writer, AL Kennedy, will scare you with the full story very depressing it is too Music played a role too him mentioning CDs he was listening to and groups he liked which reminded me a bit of Alan Warner most famous for Morvern Callar, although I prefer his book These Demented Lands MacNeil s style of writting is really imaginative and keeps you hooked perhaps not as crazy as Warner s but certainly down the same road.Experiencing Scottish life or at least one side to it was interesting I ve never been up to Lewis although I would love to go there one day The footnotes about curious words in Gaelic just to show us how deep the language really is and the use of the language with the odd word here and there in the text was fun Reminded me how I d like to learn Gaelic one day although I doubt it will be something I will ever get around to doing.This idea that the alcohol abuse is down to the errosion of tradition and identity was interesting Did he mention aborigines somewhere in the book I remember reading an article somewhere about an island off Australia where the rates of alcohol abuse and suicide are soaring in the aboriginal community because there is nothing else for them to do as if they can t survive in the modern world Maybe some connection back to the demise of Gaelic I know over 100 years ago little kids have the language beaten out of them at school if they spoke it instead of English It s a real shame.Other Scottish books for the curious.Alan Warner Morvern Callar, These Demented Lands mad writing, alcohol, depression, eccentricity A L Kennedy Paradise although there are other books particularly scary tale of what happens to you if you drink too much Iain Grant Small Town Antichrist Burocracy is the road to Hell literally Iain Banks The Wasp Factory very twisted, dark little book about isolated Scottish people Fuck Everyone From Holden Caulfield To Bridget Jones, Fuck All The American And English Phoney Fictions That Claim To Speak For Us They Don T Know The Likes Of Us Exist And They Never Did We Are Who We Are Because We Grew Up The Stornoway Way We Do Not Live In The Back Of Beyond, We Live In The Very Heart Of Beyond Meet R Stornoway, Drink Addled Misfit, Inhabitant Of The Hebridean Isle Of Lewis, And Meandering Man Fighting To Break Free Of An Island He Just Can T Seem To Let Go Of very good until the last fifty pages when a teenager appears to takeover writing duties. No plot, meandering, aimless But I was engaged and drawn in by the witty writing You will find yourself drawn into the mind of a completely nihilistic, cynical, drunken protagonist And just when you think you can take no you will find yourself laughing out loud from the hilarity of the writing The somewhat pointless story line and surprisingly sober ending is made endurable only by the great writing and moments of humor. Any fan of trainspotting will love this tale of life on an island The particular vices and forboils of Island people and what happens when they leave. Wow This was brutal It beats you about the head, as punishing and relentless as the Leodhasach weather Despite the abuse, you stick with it for the vulnerable moments and the downright hilarious ones And, as with all fiction, for the moments where you see aspects of your own life or personality reflected right back at you, as though the page was a mirror.So, the scene in the Pear Tree in Edinburgh brought back nice memories, R Stornoway s frank admissions of drinking to obliteration point, some not so nice memories or, rather, non memories Most spooky of all, though, was the passage about indulging in you own self pity while listening to Counting Crows, as I ve just written a blog entry on precisely the same subject Weird. This is a very interesting book The narrator, a native of the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, has a love hate self destructive relationship to himself, to alcohol, and his hometown of Stornoway The novel has interesting things to say about the state of Gaelic culture in Scotland and also the state of Scotland in the world both as a nation and non nation Bits of it are quite dark, so it s not what I would call a summer read, but overall it was thought provoking and interesting. I wish I could give this a raving review but alas I cannot It started off nice enough with a snappy, I m gonna tell it like it is feel and a lot of Scottish Gaelic footnotes As I read I felt a lack of narrative momentum and instead felt distracted by the narrator who seems focused on displaying his prowess as a man, rather than telling a story I lost interest in everything but who could ve written such arrogant jabber I started speculating on his looks how he managed to get published.I read this book while on the ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool and even the proximity of location and environment couldn t make me care about the narrator A first person narrative which is like a drunken diary or a diary of drunkenessdrunk mess I usually like such things but this narrator rubbed me the wrong way He didn t seem to have any focus for the book Is it about the death of culture, the ways in which a culture dies, the death of an individual, the ability for human growth, the inability of human growth I have no clue MacNeil introduces many characters with poetic bangs yes, he has some beautiful lines I mean he is a Gael but lets them fall by the wayside of the narrator s flip flopping perspective Did he ever really care for them Why d he introduce them at all Who or what should we care about in this story I couldn t latch on to anything except my editorial decision that this shouldn t be called a novel but a series of prose poetry which is incomplete and needs work Still, five stars for his use of gaelic Every time I read this in public, people stared at me for laughing out loud I think I actually fell in love with R Stornoway and could envision us having a very intensely rocky co dependent relationship The Outer Hebrides are some of the most beautiful places I ve ever seen the book was amazing for me because I ve seen so much of it first hand Go there and then read this book Now
Kevin MacNeil is a Scottish novelist, poet, and playwright.
- 272 pages
- The Stornoway Way
- Kevin MacNeil
- 01 March 2019 Kevin MacNeil