Saturday, July 13, 2013

William McIlvanney in a nutshell

My current reading is a hodgepodge of crime and noncrime. Here's a highlight from the crime part, The Papers of Tony Veitch, second of William McIlvanney's Laidlaw novels:
 "It was Glasgow on a Friday night, the city of stares. ... There were a few knots of people looking up at the series of windows where train departures were posted. They looked as if they were trying to threaten their own destinations into appearing." 
The line needs no analysis, but you'll get one anyway. The description's humor does nothing to soften its portrait of Glasgow. That's McIlvanney in a nutshell.
Cover blurbs often compare crime writers to Raymond Chandler, and the comparisons are generally superficial, fatuous or, I suspect, outright tongue-in-cheek. McIlvanney's emotional engagement with Glasgow, on the other hand, is one of the few facets of any crime novelist's writing that really is in the spirit of Chandler's with Los Angeles.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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