A History Maker

Alasdair Gray, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $25 (240p) ISBN 978-0-15-100207-8
It is hard at first to get one's bearings in this novel, while flipping between text and endnotes and wondering what Earth this is where immortality exists, limbs regenerate and ""keyboards"" work all sorts of seeming magic. But this latest iconoclastic creation by Gray soon engages and succeeds on all of its many levels. Lacking much else to do, men kill for televised sport in the worldwide matriarchal utopia of the 23rd century. Scotland's unlikely new hero, the gangling, intellectual warrior Wat Dryhope, has some reservations about the bloodshed-but misgivings are easily forgotten when you're the reigning media darling and consequently a much-desired bedpartner. This novel purports to be Wat's memoir of seven crucial days during which utopia nearly self-destructs, annotated extensively by his erudite mother, Kittock the henwife. Gray, author of the Whitbread Award-winning Poor Things, is known for his skewed and original views of our world. Oddities, such as the author's own line drawings dropped into the text mid-sentence, abound in this work. The futuristic dialect is appealingly colorful ("" `Ye Gowk Archie!... Ye Doited gomeril! Ye Stupit Nyaff! Ye Blirt!' ""). The wit is sharp, the social commentary on target and, most important, the quirky, arch-voiced storytelling is unfailingly entertaining. Insightful and unusual, this is a fine read on the order of the best social satire. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1996
Release date: 05/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-84195-576-6
Paperback - 978-0-15-600362-9
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