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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Morvern Callar (1995) by Alan Warner


Book Review
Morvern Callar (1995)]
 by Alan Warner

   Scottish fiction is over-represented in the 1990's portion of the first edition of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.   Morvern Callar is the name of the book and the narrator.  Warner set this and all his books in a place called "The Port" based on the town of Oban, on the west coast of Scotland.  Thus, Warner represented a sub-region of an already established regional literature. Like, I believe, all the other representative of Scottish fiction from this period on this list, Morvern Callar is a member of the Scottish underclassed, an orphan, raised by a railroad worker, who, at the beginning of the book, is working a dead end job at the local super-store, and living with her boyfriend, an independently wealthy aspiring novelist.

  Warner famously opens with Callar discovering the body of her boyfriend, who has killed himself as she slept. As one might expect of a young female character in a work of Scottish fiction, she deals with it a resourceful fashion, and the book goes on to tell a kind of hybrid bildungsroman/crime caper.  Morvern is an appealing character, and Warner doesn't overdo it on the Scottish slang/language.  At the same time it's hard to make a really principled distinction between Morvern Callar and better known books like Trainspotting, except to note that Morvern Callar is narrated by a woman and set outside of the major Scottish cities.

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