Sunday, 21 August 2011

Book of the Week - Ross Raisin, Waterline

Waterline is Ross Raisin’s second novel, after the very well received God’s Own Country. Like its predecessor, it follows the downward spiral of an isolated male figure who becomes dislocated from his usual world. In this case Mick is an ex-shipyard worker from Glasgow whose wife dies from an asbestos related cancer, almost certainly a consequence of Mick’s work. Following her death, he moves to the south of England and drifts into homelessness and alcoholism. The arc of the storyline is downwards, but ultimately it takes an upward turn (perhaps a little unrealistically).

One of the characteristics of God’s Own Country was the use of some fairly dense Yorkshire vernacular – in Waterline this is replaced by the Glaswegian equivalent. Raisin’s strength lies in getting inside the heads of his characters. He clearly has a particular interest in those on the edge of society, and a concern about social divides which is very topical. I think he is a writer to follow. Waterline is published as a paperback only (always a little disappointing) by Viking.

"Mick Little used to be a shipbuilder on the Glasgow yards. But as they closed one after another down the river, the search for work took him and his beloved wife Cathy to Australia, and back again, struggling for a living, longing for home. Thirty years later the yards are nearly all gone and Cathy is dead. And now Mick will have to find a new way to live: to get away, start again, and try to deal with the guilt he feels over her death.

In his devastating new novel Ross Raisin brings vividly to life the story of an ordinary man caught between the loss of a great love and the hard edges of modern existence. Tracing Mick's journey from the Glasgow shipyards to the crowded, sweating kitchens of an airport hotel, to the streets and riversides of London, it is an intensely moving portrait of a life being lived all around us, and a story for our times."

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