Frankie Boyle (2022) Meantime.
Posted by celticman on Thu, 08 Sep 2022
Frankie Boyle is a Scottish comedian. No Mean City. Meantime. The Scottish bit suggests that there is an outside chance he might be funny. But after comedian, I need to write, allegedly. Everybody in Glasgow thinks they are a comedian. In fact, that’s often a reason for a square-go:
‘You think yer a comedian, pal?’
Everybody in Glasgow also thinks they’re a writer, including me. The proof is in the booze and also in the number of copies sold. Frankie Boyle’s debut novel is an international bestselling author (fucker). I’m just jealous, honestly, I liked his book. I could have written it, in fact, I have wrote it (Ugly Puggly) but funnier. Yeh, I chuckle at my own sad jokes, while the joke being me.
At a simple level, this is a simple tale of simple people, who happen to be out of their face on drink and drugs most of the time and trying to make sense of the world. What’s not to like? William McIlvanney’s Detective Laidlaw didn’t set out to solve a crime but solve the world.
Glasgow 2015. Felix McAveety has been arrested for the murder of his best friend, Marina. There’s sperm on the scarf, not his sperm. He’s determined to find out who killed her, perhaps even find out the motive. Perhaps not. Marina left him a note that explained things.
Felix. If you get this then I’m dead. I know you don’t always remember how much time we spent together, but trust me you were my best friend. I want you to have this, it’s everything I made. I got mixed up in some bad stuff and I want you to stay away from it. I know you’ll want to find out what happened, but believe me, you don’t want to know. Also, there’s no chance you will ever find out because you’re a fucking idiot. So take the money and go to Thailand or something. No, not Thailand, you’ll end up getting executed on some fucking drugs offence. Maybe just put it in the bank.
Plot is something you grow potatoes in, or carefully cultivate, like fly-away hair. The themes of James Robertson’s novels also generally centre on the fragility of Scotland’s Independence and how it is perceived as a threat to the Crown. Readers know they are going to find out who the killers are. And there’s a reset button near the end of the book. Like Scooby Doo, when the mask comes off and the collection of fascist-government-agents say something like I’d have got away with it if it wasn’t for a collection of druggies, drunks and a dying novelist who formally worked for Strathclyde police.
Boyle claimed he wrote much of the novel by visiting places and speaking into a Dictaphone. Great editing is all I can say. He inhabits the narrator, but doesn’t follow the he said or she said rule, but rather the telling rule of showing emotion.
‘I need Valium,’ I blurted…
‘Valium,’ Donnie dragged the word out thoughtfully…
‘No,’ I replied mournfully…
The Scottish language is imbued with fucks, of course it fucking is. Some Scottish writers use fucken, or fuckin’ or leave out the apologetic apostrophe and go with fuckin. You can tell a lot from a Scottish writer from the fuckin language s/he uses. Boyle’s characters speak the Queen’s English, (or the King’s English now) even the way they swear. In other words, it’s non-realistic, whatever that is.
A big section (of running jokes) about Artificial Intelligence and the Large Hadron Collider melting the world into a large puddle of Scottish taking the pish is diced into the text.
‘I spotted a Diet Irn Bru [Irn-Bru] in the fridge and undid my seat belt to forage for it. ‘I’ve never really understood AI. Can a computer programme by conscious?
Sophie laughed. ‘Can a submarine swim? That’s how Noam Chomsky answers that one. Whether we call it consciousness or not, it’ll effectively be the same thing.’
Boyle worked for BBC Scotland, also lets his character portray it as a place of middle-class nepotism, whose purpose is not to make programmes for the Scottish people, but to dress the process up in Tartan, and feign a polite interest in those that do, like a Tory mimicking empathy, or PM, Liz Truss, artificial or any other kind of intelligence, because empathy would be seen as a step too far to the left, and going off script.
Like Felix getting a wank from Marina, it was nothing sexual, he explained, but Mumford & Sons were on stage and it was just something to do to pass the time.
I liked this book. You might like it too. Read on.