01 March 2011
More Scots on Drugs
These Demented Lands by Alan Warner
There’s a stain of creepy cold-weather surrealism that runs through modern Scottish fiction – think of Alasdair Gray or Iain Banks, or even Irvine Welsh. These Demented Lands belongs on the same shelf as the foregoing, though it isn’t violent or bleak; in fact, it’s fun.
I worked my way through the first half of this slim novel in delight, thinking ‘I’ve never read anything quite like this before.’ Which is true, pretty much. Further on in, though, I realized with some disappointment that a lot of the colourful stuff I’d been reading wasn’t material to the plot of the novel; and a little while later I realized that there really wasn’t a plot to this novel, either.
Strange to say, I still enjoyed These Demented Lands. The Scots-inflected prose is elegant and highly readable, with occasional rhapsodic elements. The descriptive passages are cinematic or psychedelic, the sequence of events has its own acid-fried logic, there are moments of bizarre yet laugh-out-loud comedy and everything does come together in the end, though it does so in a tearing hurry and not entirely to this reader’s satisfaction.
I realize I haven’t said much anything about the actual story or the characters in the book, or even about its setting. None of that really matters, though. This book is a trip, and a beautifully written one at that. Anyone interested enough to want to find out more should read this blogger's review, which I fully endorse and agree with. Or just read the book.