Their Lips Talk of Mischief by Alan Warner - review by Anthony Cummins

Anthony Cummins

Douglas on the Dole

Their Lips Talk of Mischief


Faber & Faber 343pp £14.99

Alan Warner is among the impressive number of Scottish writers ushered into print by Jonathan Cape’s influential editor Robin Robertson. Partly for that reason, as well as for his past interest in disrupting ideas of standard English, he is often grouped with James Kelman and Irvine Welsh. But Warner cuts a more restless figure than either. In neither form nor content are any two of his novels much alike. His readiness to try new approaches means that he is always interesting even when he fails, as in his 2006 novel The Worms Can Carry Me to Heaven, which presented the interior monologue of an HIV-infected Spaniard in a deliberate translationese.

That book departed from Warner’s regular haunt, ‘the Port’, his version of Oban, his Highland hometown. That’s where the shelf-stacker Morvern Callar, in Warner’s 1995 debut of the same name, dismembers her lover and sells his unpublished novel as her own. Also set there were Warner’s weirder, more difficult forays

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