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Morvern Callar

A novel by

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards Best Novel (nominee)
Alan Warner's Morvern Callar may be the first novel that deserves its own soundtrack. The music Warner's title character listens to as she drifts aimlessly through her sterile life may be the most worthwhile part of this depressing novel. Following in the footsteps of Trainspotting, another Scottish tale of anomie in the Highlands, Morvern Callar chronicles Morvern's dead-end existence--a joyless round of sex and raves punctuated by the music playing through her portable stereo.

Warner tells this dreary story from Morvern's point of view in a voice that is flat and affectless, as if the girl's soul had died years before though her body continues to function. Morvern Callar is a strange mix of shocking and banal, a mélange with appeal for a very specialized audience.

Morvern Callar, a low-paid employee in the local supermarket in a desolate and beautiful port town in the west of Scotland, wakes one morning in late December to find her strange boyfriend has committed suicide and is dead on the kitchen floor. Morvern's reaction is both intriguing and immoral. What she does next is even more appalling. Moving across a blurred European landscape -- from rural poverty and drunken mayhem of the port to the Mediterranean rave scene -- we experience everything from Morvern's stark, unflinching perspective.

Morvern is utterly hypnotizing from her very first sentence to her last. She rarely goes anywhere without the Walkman left behind as a Christmas present by her dead boyfriend, and as she narrates this strange story, she takes care to tell the reader exactly what music she is listening to, giving the stunning effect of a sound track running behind her voice.

In much the same way that Patrick McCabe managed to tell an incredibly rich and haunting story through the eyes of an emotionally disturbed boy in The Butcher Boy, Alan Warner probes the vast internal emptiness of a generation by using the cool, haunting voice of a female narrator lost in the profound anomie of the ecstasy generation. Morvern is a brilliant creation, not so much memorable as utterly unforgettable.

Genre: General Fiction

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