imomus (imomus) wrote,

Jock 'em if they cannae tak a fek!

Pat Kane -- author of The Play Ethic and one half of Hue and Cry -- has just published a 2300-word appraisal of The Book of Scotlands and The Book of Jokes in The Scottish Review of Books. Their version isn't online, but Pat's put the piece on his Play Ethic blog too -- here it is, with the witty title Jock 'em if they can't take a fuck.

Kane -- a parent of young children -- distances himself from the "too-playful" provocation of the novel:

"The Book of Jokes - an unrelentingly taboo-busting Joycean rollercoaster of a short novel - could easily be sucked into the kind of media vortex of fear and loathing that currently swirls around Lars Von Trier's Antichrist," he writes. "It’s the kind of genuinely disruptive fiction that's only been attempted a few times in the twentieth century, and for that – as my queasiness and occasional disgust can testify – we can be thankful. The Book of Scotlands is an altogether less alarming, more usable volume of Borges-style "fictions" about the possible Scotlands that might inform a nation heading towards independence. Though I doubt whether the Government will be looking to Momus's habitual surrealism for any substantive policy advice."

I particularly like the bits where Kane slots me into a Scottish literary context including several heroes of mine:

"But like Alasdair Gray and the masochistic and misogynist fantasies that suffuse his writing, or Ian Hamilton Finlay and his veneration of the murderous Saint-Just in Little Sparta, you have to grapple with the dark, all-too-playful side of Momus's creativity."

"If he were spun back into life from a scrap of DNA, Hugh Macdiarmid might well be thumping Momus with the same insult – "cosmopolitan scum" – that he landed on a kindred psychonaut, Alexander Trocchi, in the sixties."

"Nothing is not possible in Momus's Scotland (or as Edwin Morgan might say, there's nothing not giving messages)."

"Currie, knowingly or not, is joining a welcome recent trend towards speculative Scottish fiction (only developing, of course, what Morgan and Gray had self-consciously begun), in which we can count Andrew Crumey's Sputnik Caledonia, John Aberdein's Strip The Willow, Ken McLeod's The Night Sessions – and of course, the transhuman comic fictions of Mark Miller and Grant Morrison."

The answer to that "knowingly or not" is, mostly, not. Which is why it's great to have such an incisive and referential review, probably the most morally rigorous I'll get.

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