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1982, Janine

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  538 Ratings  ·  40 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
Aug 25, 2007 Melanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007
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
Paul Bryant
Feb 06, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
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
Sep 21, 2011 knig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 20, 2012 Jim Schmitt rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
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 it was amazing  ·  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
Apr 11, 2013 Jim Elkins rated it liked it
Shelves: scottish
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
May 15, 2015 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2015 Bert rated it really liked it
Alcoholic Tory Jock spends the night drinking and wanking in a b&b. His fantasies involve the sound of undone buttons, bondage, rape...they are interspersed with memories, fits of guilt, digressions about politics. There are stories within stories, experiments in text, the fourth wall gets a good bashing. Then about halfway through this novel does something totally unexpected. You end up actually caring. Beyond all the playfulness and perviness is an incredibly sad and humane novel about reg ...more
Jon Frankel
Jul 09, 2015 Jon Frankel rated it it was amazing
1982 Janine, by the Scottish author and artist Alasdair Gray, is a work of great eccentricitie, an experimental novel with a strong narrative and representational prose style, which is autobiographical and individualistic to the core. It is also the work of an author and narrator who exists most comfortably in self-opposition. Thus, among many other things, the self-deprecating, self-hating hero is a conservative technocrat given to political ranting in such a way as to reinforce, without irrita ...more
Paul Webster
Oct 20, 2013 Paul Webster rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 06, 2010 Jena rated it really liked it
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
Feb 13, 2016 Sini rated it really liked it
Dit is de tweede roman van Alasdair Gray, een volslagen excentrieke Schot die prettig gestoorde boeken schrijft, door o.a. Will Self bejubeld als misschien wel de grootste levende Britse schrijver, maar door anderen verguisd, en door de meesten gewoon straal genegeerd. Prowisorio en ik waren erg enthousiast over het maffe meesterwerk Lanark, maar Gray zelf vindt 1982 Janine nog beter. Nou, ik niet dus, want Lanark is m.i. toch rijker van inhoud en stijl en heeft ook minder inzinkingen. Maar ik v ...more
Jonathan Rimorin
Sep 02, 2015 Jonathan Rimorin rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was 19, most of it in a hotel room. The entire novel takes place in the mind of Jock MacLeish, a Scotsman alone in a hotel room, who tries to masturbate in fits and starts; he fantasizes about 1982 (a great year for him) and Janine (his dream woman), accuses and recuses himself, tries to gear up for excitement only to sabotage himself by digressing into guilt and childhood melancholy. In other words, a typical session of self-abuse. Gray dots his text with subtextual foot ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Virginia rated it it was amazing
With all the talk of this being a challenge, I wasn't sure what to expect and felt quite brave diving off the platform. But having no expectations turned out, at least in my experience, to be exactly how to approach this book. It is not exactly your linear narrative. Right from the first page, you land for better or worse in the head of the main character, with his fantasies, memories and self castigations. But if you trust that the answers will come, you'll enjoy the ride.

McLeish's mind is deba
Jun 19, 2007 K H rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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!
Jan 28, 2015 Crito rated it really liked it
Mr. Gray deserves credit here at the very least for using experimental typefacing in a way that isn't a dumb annoying gimmick. There's so much else he executes impeccably and he covers a large variety of disparate themes and topics.
Where does he not hit it home? Well, he really likes to show his hand for the cheap seats. He plants you inside the mind of this sad cretin and hints at all you need to know through the rambling and entertaining stream of consciousness and then later he'll double bac
Lois Wolffe
May 19, 2015 Lois Wolffe rated it liked it
Shelves: tbr20-2015
There's something really quite appealing about the premise of this book: a man is holed up in a hotel room in some godforesaken town. He drinks a bottle of whisky and tells stories about his life, about Scotland and politics, in between describing his sexual fantasies.

He's a senior engineer for a security company and travels around Scotland for his work, but his life hasn't turned out as he might once have hoped and he's found solace in the drink. Tonight it is all coming to a head.

I suspect m
Nov 07, 2008 Jaslo rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 08, 2008 Phinehas rated it it was amazing

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
Jan 06, 2010 Kathryn Brown rated it really liked it
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
Nov 21, 2011 Fergus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 did not like it
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
Jul 19, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen Buckley
Feb 16, 2016 Stephen Buckley rated it liked it
Didn't like the first half so much, but the second half made the earlier parts make a bit more sense. I think I came to it expecting something as good as Lanark, so I came away a bit disappointed.
Aug 18, 2011 Sheherazahde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, sex, literature
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.
Nov 26, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites, owned
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.
Feb 10, 2013 Sandra rated it it was amazing
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."
Dec 11, 2012 Darren rated it it was amazing
Marxism, nationalism, love, Conservatism, the class system, secession, alcoholism, you name it. All wrapped up in a pansexual sado-masochistic fantasy. Lovely.
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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
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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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