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1982, Janine
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1982, Janine

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  433 ratings  ·  32 reviews
1982, Janine is a liberal novel of the most satisfying kind. Set over the course of one night inside the head of Jock McLeish, an aging, divorced, alcoholic, insomniac supervisor of security installations, as he tipples in the bedroom of a small Scottish hotel, it makes an unanswerable case that republicanism is a state of absolute spiritual bankruptcy. For Jock McLeish, b
Published (first published 1984)
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MJ Nicholls
Note: This is a review from March 18th 2007. Paul Bryant approved.

Anyone For Glum Scottish Fiction?

Following up the most important Scottish novel since Walter Scott published Waverley in 1814 must have been rather arduous for obsessive, self-taught polymath Alasdair Gray. Then again, arduous is more or less the status quo for the bruiser of contemporary Scottish fiction.

A few facts for those unfamiliar with Gray – born in Glasgow in 1934, the man is a walking encyclopaedia of literature who embr
Some of my most meaningful reading experiences have been the completely unexpected ones--not the comfort of reading a book from a favorite writer, but the shock of discovering something completely new, the thrill of grabbing a book that, for example, has been sitting on the backseat of my car for four months and for some unknown reason is the thing I pick up as I'm heading into a restaurant I don't even like for a lonely Saturday lunch.

Four months ago, I'd stumbled upon an interview with Alasda
Feb 06, 2014 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
The internet keeps blasting adverts at me asking if I want bigger and thicker pens. They're really behind the times even if they are the internet. I hardly use pens anymore, sad to say, so no, I don't need bigger thicker pens.

And neither did Alasdair Gray when he splurged forth this rude novel, the Scottish equivalent of Martin Amis' Money. In both books middle aged unattractive guys get to discuss the nether parts of much younger ladies and there is quite a bit about rifling through drawers ful
This book was recommended by Will Self: an author who ‘had me at hello’, so I embarked on my first Alasdair Gray. The book does exactly what it says on the tin: erotic fantasy intermixed with philosophical ruminations and nostalgic recollections. But is it shocking? For Pauline Reage devotees, hardly. For virgins and/or Mills and Boon fans: just about maybe. Anyway, the erotic fantasies seem almost as an afterthought in this novel, despite the considerable amount of time Gray spent on constructi ...more
Jim Schmitt
My thoughts on this book can be summarized by one word: Interesting. It was not what I would call a page turner, but the unique writing style and presentation, along with the subject matter, had me quite intrigued. The book centers around a single character - Jock McLeish, an aging alcoholic security alarm installer who attempts to spend the night in a motel creating in-depth pornographic fantasies. These scenes become quite graphic at certain points in the novel and I've since read that apparen ...more
Jul 19, 2011 Alan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone for whom a hero isn't necessarily the most important part of the story
Recommended to Alan by: Sordid imaginings; long, lonely nights
I don't know where to begin. So much has been said already about 1982 Janine. The book doesn't need my apologetics—odds are, it'll just make you sad, unhappy or angry anyway. You could do a lot worse than to just read Will Self's Introduction to this edition, before proceeding on to the thing itself. But I want to share my impressions, even so.

1982 Janine has always struck me as sui generis, despite the author's own protestations and list of antecedents in the Epilogue—one of those rare and amaz
Jim Elkins
Gray is an experimental novelist; this was his second novel. It takes tremendous risks with form, with the reader's sympathy, with coherence, and with the author's capacity to suspend disbelief. Gray is also a painter and printmaker, and he made the cover and drew his own self-portrait for the jacket. (More on that later.) The book also has some pages of graphical typography, which he says are unconsciously borrowed from "Tristram Shandy." (More on that later.)

The protagonist, John McLeish, is a
A terrific read but terribly depressing. Although it ends on an upnote, you've almost gone too far down to really believe the character could go back up again. Not having read too many (read: any) Scottish novelists, it was very interesting to think about a country that feels itself under the thumb of England. I enjoyed the political discussions, too--it's both strange and sad to see Marxism juxtaposed with Capitalism as a viable alternative; 30 years later, this kind of talk could only happen i ...more
Paul Webster
My favourite novel. It's complex, pretty disturbing in parts, but by the end is deeply moving and uplifting - a real call to arms.

It's about depression. The loss of youthful optimism about the world and the descent into the darkest cynicism - and how this mirrors Britain's recent history. It's about self loathing. How we reshape our view of the world to fit with our view of ourselves. It's about alcoholism - and contains passages of the most excruciating social embarrassment you will ever read.
The reviews of Gray's books are remarkably similar to those one finds on Kathy Acker's novels, so it's no surprise that I adored this book. Like Acker, Janine masquerades as a work of pornography, but it's really about gender, impotence resulting from global capitalism, pleasure despite (even, to spite) it, and, strangely enough, ends up being a story about love. I'm about to read another book of his that is out-of-print and was actually inspired by Acker's's been a long time since I d ...more
Jun 19, 2007 K H rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: lit
I hated this so much during the most of the reading of it. The character has a pornographic obsession with Janine, which is what primarily contributed to the difficulty of reading it. I kept at it because I trust Mr. Gray, and my trust was affirmed in that there is a major shift at the end of the book which accounts for my five-star, "it was amazing" rating.
Aug 11, 2008 Marta rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: joe plese
Recommended to Marta by: will self
alasdair gray is a scottish socialist and painter and is unspeakably good. oh! this book is so sad! and hot! etc!
He invites the reader to participate in the narrative. The scenes shift, the wardrobes shift, the characters transform often and on the whim of the narrator who recounts...Reading 1982, Janine, becomes piecing fragments of the narrator/author's mind together, and enhancing those fragments with our mind, (as we seem to have permission to do.) The language also changes but remains consistently poetic/exploratory/fresh and inventive "Because Big Momma has taken off her denim waistcoat and blouse. B ...more

This book was a wonderful surprise. I had never heard of the author before and read it more or less at random at the recommendation of a friend who thought I might like it. I was completely blown away. The action of the entire novel takes place over the course of one night in the mind of a middle-aged alcoholic installer of security systems. The opening chapters consist of the narrator's elaborate sexual fantasies involving the "Janine" of the title. Through the course of the book these fantasie
Kathryn Brown
My lit snob friend, Robert, recommended Alasdair Gray to me. Generally, I cast aside his suggestions b/c I immediately assume that the books are too dense for my brain to handle, but I was attracted to Alasdair. I looked him up in Wiki and found that he describes himself as "a fat, spectacled, balding, increasingly old Glasgow pedestrian." Yep, he's someone I want to be friends with, and not only is he a writer, but he's an artist and illustrates all of his books. I dug through some of his books ...more
Another terrifying piece of brilliance from Gray, who is perhaps my favourite writer, for now at least. Loved the typographical flights of fancy, and the whole thing was like a lesson in how to build a full human character and make them interesting. Painful at points, I'll be taking notes from Jock's life as an example of how not to lead mine. Slight redemption at the end? One complaint: the implication in Gray's epilogue that the Glasgow mafia helped get the book published. I hope that's a joke ...more
Apr 27, 2008 Maureen rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fetishists with dangerous sociopathic tendancies
Gray's own cover blurb says it best:

This already dated novel is set inside the head of an ageing, divorced, alcoholic, insomniac supervisor of security installations who is tippling in the bedroom of a small Scottish hotel. Though full of depressing memories and propaganda for the Conservative Party it is mainly a sadomasochistic fetishistic fantasy. Even the arrival of God in the later chapters fails to elevate the tone. Every stylistic excess and moral defect which critics conspired to ignore
Mara Eastern
Self-indulgent but smart. A great sample of self-depreciative Scottish black humour.
This book was an interesting mix of the disturbing and the mundane, the traditional and the experimental. I'm not sure I would have expected a story could hang around an aging drunk with a messed up life sitting in a motel room alternating between unsettling sadomasochistic sexual fantasies and honest life introspection. There was a lot that pushed me a way, a lot that pulled at me, and all added up to a curious book. I'm still not sure quite how I feel about all of it, but it was well worth the ...more
I don't quite know how to describe this book. It is about depression, suicide, sex, and divine intervention, and the text does some strange things at times. [return][return]I like it, but then I like weird stuff.
One of my favorite books. Though it's been quite a while since I've read it, so I don't think I could review it with any justice at this stage. But this is the book that sold me on the genius of Alasdair Gray.
Why doesn't anyone talk about what a badass Gray is? This entire book is a guy's inner monologue while he tries to get himself off. At one point he talks to god and god is like "Quit whining, dickhead."
Marxism, nationalism, love, Conservatism, the class system, secession, alcoholism, you name it. All wrapped up in a pansexual sado-masochistic fantasy. Lovely.
Taylor Flannagan
Jun 25, 2007 Taylor Flannagan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: books
Gray has the ability to craft a story about bizarre S&M fantasies and insomniatic heartbreak that made me cry. This book will change how you feel about books in general.
Jun 17, 2013 Kenneth marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
David Edmonds
I could have sworn I hadn't read this one - either my memory is at fault or it made very little impression on me.
Leo Robertson
Expertly written middle-aged shame.

It's not porn.

Jock almost definitely exists.

G'on yersel' Jock!
Alastair Kerr
Difficult, challenging, interesting, a struggle at points but overall worthwhile.
Beth Shields-Szostak
introduction by Will Self c2003
A most odd book...
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Alasdair Gray trained as a painter at the local Glasgow school of art. He was 47 when he published his first novel, Lanark (1981), which combines all sorts of genres, from sci-fi to autobiography and literary criticism, into a fantastic account of the city of Unthank - a thinly disguised Glasgow.
Gray shows an interest in sex which borders on the unhealthy, as indicated by the title of his 1990 nov
More about Alasdair Gray...
Lanark Poor Things Unlikely Stories, Mostly Ten Tales Tall And True The Ends of Our Tethers: 13 Sorry Stories

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“What would happen if most people tried to act intelligently on their own behalf? Anarchy. (....) So what can we do with this intelligence we don't need and can't use? Stupefy it. Valium for housewives, glue-sniffing for schoolkids, hash for adolescents, rotgut South African wine for the unemployed, beer for the workers, spirits for me and the crowd I left downstairs fifteen minutes ago.” 3 likes
“Every stylistic excess and moral defect which critics conspired to ignore in the author's first books, LANARK and UNLIKELY STORIES, MOSTLY, is to be found here in concentrated form.” 2 likes
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