Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly's Reviews > Morvern Callar

Morvern Callar by Alan Warner
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's review
May 13, 2011

really liked it
Read in May, 2011

It is unfortunate that this came completely soundless to me when its reading is supposed to be accompanied by music. Music playing either in Morvern Callar's ubiquitous Walkman or elsewhere (a radio nearby, or a stereo, etc.). I don't know what effect it would have had on me if I just had any idea what these tracks sounded like, or even just what their lyrics say:

You Got Me Rockin'
Take Cover
Ma Rainey
Crack Butter
Panzer Be Bop
Last Exit: Straw Dog
Miles Davis: Great Expectations
Sonny Sharrock: Dick Dogs
Luciano Berio: Visage
Ronald Shannon Jackson: Taboo
Bill Laswell: Assassin
Challenge to Manhood
Lee Perry: De Devil Dead
FSOL: Room 208
Kraftwerk: Computer Love
Weather Report: Cucumber Slumber
Eno: Here Come The Warm Jets
Czukay Wobble Liebezeit: Full Circle
Zawinul: The Harvest
Scritti Politti: A Little Knowledge
Hunters & Collectors: Dog
John McCormack: Come my Beloved
Hardware: 500 Years
Robert Calvert: Ejection
Leisure Process: A Way You'll Never Be

to name just a FEW. Not one I recognize. Morvern Callar calls them "rave stuff." The setting is a desolate town in Scotland, maybe around the early 1990's (a computer here still has floppy discs). I was already very much alive and kicking at that time, yet I do not know her music.

It was therefore very much like watching a silent movie, without a soundtrack and its dialogues given as mere subtitles below the screen. Still, I was very much tempted to give it 5 stars. The unfortunate limitation simply could not transform this ingenious novel into a bad one.

Morvern Callar is a 21-year-old employee of a local supermarket. She was an orphan who was raised by foster parents. She narrates AND writes this novel. From her prose one can readily sense her lack of, or limited, formal education, with her repetitive expressions, grammatical lapses, mispellings and unnecessary capitalizations. I suspect she speaks some kind of a Scottish slang. Very difficult to understand at first but eventually I got the hang of it. She's a chain smoker ("...used the goldish lighter on a Silk Cut" she often says), a hard drinker and party-goer, and into casual sex and occasional drugs.

One day, near Christmas, she saw her 34-year-old boyfriend of 5 years lying dead on her kitchen floor, a suicide. He had chopped of his hand with a meat cleaver and slit his throat with a knife. That's the scene which opens this novel. The guy was apparently the complete opposite of Morvern Callar. He had written a book kept in his computer. He had left ample money. In his suicide note, he professed his love for her, instructed her to get his book published, but remained vague on why he had decided to take his own life, and in such a gruesome manner. What Morvern Callar did after this, what she did to her boyfriend's body, to his money, to the book he left, and to her own self, are what you'll find out as you continue reading, and reading, and reading, unable to put down the book, your mouth wide open in disbelief, amazed that a guy--Alan Warner--can go deep inside the mind of a girl and create one of the unforgettable literary characters I had ever known.
And this, even without the music.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Mariel The movie is one of my whole hearted faves. The book is good, but musicless as you said.

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly I didn't know this was moviefied already. I think I'll go and look for a copy from my favorite pirate. Thanks.

message 3: by mark (new)

mark monday Eno: Here Come The Warm Jets is my favorite up there. but that list includes a lot of awesome classics.

the movie is awesome as well.

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly thanks. makes me redouble my effort to look for it.

Shovelmonkey1 There's a movie? I read this last year and lazily have not reviewed it yet. Thought this was a great read but so far no one on bookcrossing really seems to be sharing my sentiments on that!

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly haven't found the movie up to now, aaaw.

Ellie I had the same problem!

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