The View from Poacher’s Hill by Various Authors – Book Review

The View from Poacher’s Hill by Various Authors – Book Review

The View from Poachers Hill

The View from Poacher’s Hill
Seal Club 2

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Seal Club returns with The View From Poacher’s Hill, featuring new novellas by Alan Warner, Irvine Welsh, and and John King. Three literary chums, three more doses of bold contemporary fiction.

In Warner’s Migration, a reluctant teenager is taken to live on the Costa Blanca by her parents, but despite the villa, pool and palm trees as enjoyed through designer shades, Lily struggles to adapt to her new life in Spain. All is not well in paradise.

In Welsh’s In Real Life, the dull existence of disenfranchised Edinburgh youths is eased by the more seductive worlds glimpsed on the likes of Instagram. With drugs, porn, junk food and single-parenthood their everyday obsessions, this romping comedy of no manners asks if our onscreen lives can ever compensate for having nothing in real life. Perhaps the dapper Uncle Glen recently returned from Hemel Hempstead has the answer?

In King’s Grand Union, the arrival by narrowboat of former lorry driver Merlin and his goat Gary attracts a curious crowd to a canalside pub in West London, but with rival football firms represented and a local man on a mission to stop the Devil and his sorcerer from entering the city, the peaceful drink planned may not go according to plan.

Seal Club 2: The View From Poacher’s Hill – uncensored and unapologetic, the second part of a trilogy from Warner, Welsh, King.

Review by Julie

‘The View from Poacher’s Hill’ is the second book in a trilogy by Alan Warner, Irvine Welsh and John King. They have put together an eclectic mix of three contemporary novellas giving an insight into various aspects of modern life.

In ‘Warner’s Migration’ we meet Lily Hansford, her family and friends. Lily is an only child of materially successful yet over-indulgent parents. Lily has a mobility problem which is hinted at in the first section and described in rather brutal terms from the perspective of a would-be boyfriend in the middle section. The final section fills us in on Lily’s subsequent life and her decisions with their consequences for others from the point of view of her best friend.

‘Real Life’ gives a snapshot of the lives of some deprived young people in Edinburgh. We meet Lita and her less than committed boyfriend, Jayden, along with their foils. Packed full of social messages, its vivid descriptions of the apathetic superficial existence of this amoral cast, is powerful. Whilst it could be interpreted as depressing and fatalistic, it is interspersed with dry and, at times, dark humour. The narrative is written in British English with the thoughts of the characters, along with the dialogue, conducted in local dialect which made for slow progress. Whilst I had significant reading challenges, using this literary device certainly adds to the overall impact.

‘Grand Union’ is the tale of Merlin an ex-lorry driver and Gary the goat who live together harmoniously on a narrowboat which may actually be a barge. They travel around Britain’s waterways and plan to rendezvous with some old friends of Merlin in Uxbridge, after a gap of many years. After receiving some photos of the goat, there is speculation amongst Merlin’s friends that everything is not what it seems. We then spend time with the friends and witness the complex dynamics of the intertwined relationships. Unfortunately, the references to football teams and players were completely lost on me.

It is difficult to create depth of character in the novella format but I congratulate the authors for each achieving this to some extent. The language and content might be rather too colourful and explicit for some readers but the synopsis should alert anyone of a sensitive nature that this collection is uncensored.

The stories are filled with references to real events, people, places and songs to embed the characters, allowing the reader to identify with a shared culture. The stories complement each other and readers who are in tune with the writers’ styles will no doubt appreciate this compilation.

As a reviewer, I read across many genres and value being taken out of my comfort zone, which was certainly the case with these stories. Each author has produced a strong, well-constructed and competent piece of work; objectively therefore, I award 5 stars.

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Alan Warner, Irvine Welsh, John King


John King is the author of nine novels – The Football Factory, Headhunters, England Away, Human Punk, White Trash, The Prison House, Skinheads, The Liberal Politics Of Adolf Hitler and Slaughterhouse Prayer. The Football Factory was turned into a play and a high-profile film.

King has written short stories and non-fiction for a number of publications, with articles appearing in the likes of The New Statesman, Le Monde and La Repubblica. His books have been widely translated abroad. He edits the fiction fanzine Verbal and lives in London.

Irvine Welsh is probably most famous for his gritty depiction of a gang of Scottish Heroin addicts, Trainspotting (1993), Welsh focuses on the darker side of human nature and drug use. All of his novels are set in his native Scotland and filled with anti-heroes, small time crooks and hooligans.

Welsh manages, however to imbue these characters with a sad humanity that makes them likable despite their obvious scumbaggerry. Irvine Welsh is also known for writing in his native Edinburgh Scots dialect, making his prose challenging for the average reader unfamiliar with this style.

Alan Warner is one of Scotland’s best loved literary figures. His debut, Morvern Callar is a contemporary classic; both it and The Sopranos have been made into famous films. He has been nominated for the Booker Prize and many other awards. He teaches at the University of Aberdeen.

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