Monday, 15 October 2012

Boyracers by Alan Bissett

review by Maryom

Meet Alvin a sixteen year old from Falkirk. He's staying on at school to take his Highers* with a special interest in English Lit and horror stories but lives for the nights when he meets up with his older mates to go racing round the streets of Falkirk in their car Belinda. On the way they discuss everything from football to physics, sex to Clive Barker, all liberally sprinkled with film quotes and song lyrics. Gradually though a darker side of this carefree life starts to emerge - violence, accidents and above all the sheer monotony of 'grown up' life in Falkirk. Alvin realises that he, at least, has a chance to escape - that university offers the prospect of a more exciting, more fulfilling life beyond Falkirk - but will that be betraying his mates?

I've been meaning to track down Boyracers ever since I was astounded by its sequel Pack Men.  To be honest I'd been expecting something less enthralling - an everyday tale of teenage angst and growing up - and yet again Alan Bissett has managed to surprise me! 

Boyracers is a high energy, petrol and Irn Bru fuelled race through teenage life told as it happens, in almost one long stream of consciousness with quirky page lay-outs and grammar. The reader is dropped slam bang, mid-sentence into the back seat of the Lads car tearing round Falkirk and kept pinned there. This was one of those books that once started, I didn't want to put down - and it left me so 'wired' that despite reading till late at night I couldn't sleep! A book I'd highly recommend to teens and to those of us oldies who haven't quite forgotten what it is to be young!

What I read was the 10th anniversary edition, re-edited and 'resprayed' by the author but presumably not substantially different to its original text. Having read Bissett's first novel and his latest I'm now off to find the in-between ones - and to see if he can surprise me some more!

*Scottish A-level equivalent 

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Polygon
Genre - teen/adult crossover, literary fiction

Buy Boyracers from Amazon

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