Hame is a satirical takedown of romanticised Scotticism with its bards, bagpipes, and tartan trews.
The basic premise is that Mhairi McPhail, a Scot by birth but with a New York accent, is returning to her homeland to establish a museum on the Isle of Fascaray dedicated to the Isle's famous son, the poet Grigor McWatt. The novel is made up from interleaved sections of Mhairi's diary, her published work A Granite Ballad - The Reimagining of Grigor McWatt, various essays and writings of McWatt from published sources, and McWatt's poems. Together they make up the story of McWatt, compared and contrasted to the experience of Mhairi as an incomer. But they also paint a portrait of a Scottish island community; of the Scots arts and literature community; of Gaelic and Scots; of Scotland as a whole.
The result is hilarious. As real islanders worry about the weather and fuel supplies; shopping trips to the mainland; how to get seven days' work done in six - McWatt and those like him spend their time banging out doggerel poetry in a mish-mash of Scottish dialects purporting to be a language; pontificate on the decline of traditional values; and drinking in the comfort of bars in Edinburgh's New Town.
Fascaray itself is a fictional island, but much of it bears a close resemblance to Lewis, with a fair dose of the Inner Hebrides thrown in (especially Islay and Jura) and even the odd nod to the St Kilda archipelago. The issues feel authentic: the tension between preserving the natural beauty and exploiting natural resources; the tensions between the faiths; and the quest to curate/create a visitor attraction that will bring the tourists rolling in. Some of the events are real: the annual guga hunt is a real thing in Ness; the threat of offshore wind farms (and onshore wind farms) have divided real island communities; islanders really have protested against the establishment of Sunday ferry crossings; and the Morvern peninsula really is being slowly excavated.
The literary angle to Hame also rings true. In small communities across Scotland, poets and writers are local legends despite the dubious quality of their works. Their works are published by small presses that survive on arts council subsidies, sold in souvenir shops and read by nobody. The writers augment their earnings by penning diaries and editorials for local newspapers. McWatt was a mainstay of the Auchwinnie Pibroch - his opinions given credence because of his fame, and his fame deriving from giving opinions. McWatt's poems are truly terrible: translations of great works into Scots dialect. The typical reader is unlikely to understand all of the verse - the dialect is too obscure - but will understand enough to see how the metre and the imagery have been ripped away from the original poems. And please don't be tempted to translate the verse back into English as that would be just as pointless as McWatt's original translation. The whole Scots dialect thing is paraded for comic effect; we can imagine arty Glaswegians professing to understand all the Scots because it is their language (and requires less effort to learn than the real language of Gaelic), yet failing to agree with each other about what the words actually mean.
Hame is an absolute gem of a work; relatively long and at risk in the early sections of not having enough of a story to hang together. But as the book builds momentum, so the stories build and the multiple strands come together. The ending - the twist - is perfectly predictable but no less funny for its obviousness. It is rare to coe across a book with quite so much going on and for it all to land.
I like to read horror mainly Gorey stuff don't mind suspence stuff thrillers too here's some authors I read .Richard laymon Shaun hutson john Saul Robert mccammon ramsy Campbell Stephen laws Graham masterton Dean koontz .not saying I've read all of there works but I am always looking to had to the list if you can recommend any as I'm trying to read more to complete my good reads challenge 2018
We have recently launched a new business with a new way of reading stories! It's called Letters Across Time, where you receive stories from characters through the mail in actual letters. There are free samples on the website, if you want to give it a try. We would love to hear what book lovers think of this idea!
I am currently staying at a friend's house while she is in Africa, while my house is being readied to sell for what I hope is a LOT of money. Her 27-year old daughter, whom I've known most of her life, stays in a cottage (but less cute than that sounds) at the back of the property, but we usually see each other in the evenings to watch "Game of Thrones" or chat while she is playing a video game that I can't remember the name of. The daughter is friends with this author, who is a professor of English at a well-known college in Boston (not Harvard, which is sometimes called a "college outside of Boston" by those who are trying to feign embarrassment at coming right out and saying that's where they went to college, but everyone knows). She loves this book and suggested I read it.
You can imagine that my hopes were not high, but I enjoyed the book a lot. There are two intersecting plot lines, one of a woman who has studied magic and realizes that a friend of hers has a magical knife and the other of a woman who has a magical talent for finding things looking for a special item at the behest of a client. I never got the 2 women mixed up and I thought the plot was easy to follow and engaging. I looked forward to getting back to the book when I had to be away for something as hum drum as work. While there were definitely scary and upsetting moments, there were also some very funny asides or comments that I enjoyed. I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in this kind of fantasy.
Apparently some people were put off by the ending, but I was not. The objection was that not everything was resolved clearly.