Image from BooksfromScotland.com
Looking for a summer beach read that isn't fluffy chick lit or a fashion magazine? If you're in the mood for something distinctive, quirky, and well-written, I recommend Morvern Callar by Alan Warner. I was first introduced to this book in university and picked it up again recently for a very pleasurable re-reading.
Morvern Callar recounts the life of a twentysomething high school dropout living in a Scottish port town and working a dead-end job at a supermarket. A few days before Christmas, Morvern wakes up to discover that her boyfriend has committed suicide. Surprised but remarkably unfazed, she goes about her everyday life--work, partying with her friend Lanna, saving up for a resort holiday in Spain. She does deal with the body eventually (I'll leave it to you to find out how), and uses the money from her boyfriend's estate and newly published novel to plunge headfirst into a life of hedonism. Having grown up in a working class family and faced with few prospects as an adult, she now finds herself having the time of her life, but will it last?
Warner deftly weaves together class politics, Scottish flavour, obscure music (Morvern makes special mix tapes to play when disposing of the body), and the '90s rave scene in this novel, which received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1997. For me, this book is perfect summer reading because of the escapist element of Morvern's journey to Spain--depicted as a land of eternal sun, summer, and relaxation--and the captivating quality of her narrative voice. The Scottish slang and odd Gaelic phrases do take some getting used to, but once you start reading you won't want to stop.
What do you like reading in the summer?