Alan Warner has written six previous books of electric impersonation, placing neon-tinged phrases in the mouths of characters far removed from his actual self. His great first novel, Morvern Callar, was written in the Scots dialect of a working-class, female Mersault; the brilliant The Sopranos was told in the hooched-up babble of a group of Catholic schoolgirls. The further from himself Warner goes, the more inventive he seems to be. It makes a certain kind of sense, then, to find his most autobiographical work to date told in his most subdued voice.
Born in 1964, Warner grew up in the West Highlands, near Oban, the place where those early works were set, and where this book returns. It is the early Seventies and Simon Crimmons is fifteen and aching to do something: ‘Not just for summer. That’s like playing. I mean for