‘It is a triumphant debut novel, which announces a real new talent on the Scottish literary scene’ Press and Journal
‘‘More than just a nostalgic recreation of the author’s youth, it’s a compassionate, affecting story of a family in crisis at a time of upheaval and transformation, when disco wasn’t the only thing whose days were numbered’ Herald Scotland
‘Dark, hilarious & heartbreaking’ Muriel Gray
‘Warm, funny & evocative’ Chris Brookmyre
I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for an ARC in return for an honest review.
Welcome to the Heady Heights is at times hilarious, upsetting, exciting, deeply moving and darkly comedic. It is a love letter to a city and it’s people, celebrating he best and illuminating the worst of this iconic northern city. As both a backdrop and a character it’s beauty is celebrated as much as the characters themselves, for beneath the “blackened soot” is a majestic beauty encapsulated in it’s buildings and people. It’s brooding presence sets the scene for a novel so compelling, so complex that I lost myself utterly in it’s poignant telling of Archie Blunts dream of hitting the big time.
It’s at this point in the review that I admit that I feel head over heals in love with Archie, failed tram driver, who becomes caught up in the machinations of the Circle, a group of men with dark perversions. At heart Archie is a loving, gentle man, who makes mistakes, poor decisions, but the world around him has left him with little choice, but to try and manipulate those that seek to look down on him. Trying to escape poverty and a life both bewildering and often heart breaking, he is left with no choice but to try rising above the dangerous world around him, even if it only leads him further into its embrace. But despite this, Archie continues dare to live “technicolour dreams” and I couldn’t love him more for this, for his faults, but most of all for his bravery in getting up and continuing to try for a better life.
The humour in this stunning novel comes from his attempts to enter a boy band into a talent competition. I kid you not, I cried tears of laughter as well as tears of sadness when reading this novel; the laughter reaching its peak when the boy band suggest the name “Fuckwits”, come on, it makes a change from Take That! Days after finishing, I still can’t stop laughing at the trip in the back of the van down to London. Yet on the turn of a phrase, I felt such sadness, it felt like my chest was being crushed with a sense of hopelessness.
The darkness comes from characters like Heady Hendricks, who are used to expose the under belly of society, the intuitional corruption that allowed men like Saville and Rolf Harris to avoid exposure. Then we have Barbara, a young PC, who despite the very public humiliation layered on her by her male colleagues, fights to bring the Circle to justice and from this to the demeaning exploitation of wannabe stars, many vulnerable for viewing figures in a X-Factor like talent show. It is powerful stuff, especially when you add the thriller elements into the story. I spent so much time scared that Archie and the supporting cast of characters would be destroyed by the evil raging against them, that I forgot to breath on times.
The language is colourful on times, but what’s not to love about the authors celebration of language, unafraid to give a honest voice to his characters, so much so I will leave the last words of this review with the Fuckwits, ” Ma throats as dry as a camel’s arsehole back here.”
About the author
David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over thirty years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP. Since the publication of his debut novel The Last Days of Disco, he’s become something of a media celebrity in Scotland, with a signed copy of his book going for £500 at auction, and the German edition has not left the bestseller list since it was published.