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The Deadman's Pedal by Alan Warner
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The Deadman's Pedal

by Alan Warner

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A fantastic coming of age novel about a young man in the Highlands of Scotland in the 1970s. In an act of minor rebellion and an impatience to start his adult life, he leaves school at 16 to work on the railways. There, he initially finds himself a bit of an outsider. Since his father is comparatively rich (he owns a road haulage company), he is considered too posh for a railway worker, but when he befriends a brother and sister who live the local 'big hoose' (rather gloriously called 'Broken Moan') he is considered too working class for them.

The evocation of time and place is wonderful, and the rendering of the local dialect is great. It also captures really well the friendship and petty rivalries between the men who work on the railway. As a woman, I found it an interesting insight into what was then (and probably still mainly is today) a man's world. There's even some great technical detail about trains and the railway system that gives it a ring of authenticity, but is also entertaining if you're a bit nerdy like me. ( )
2 vote bsag | Apr 2, 2013 |
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It is the early 1970s in the Highlands of Scotland and for 16-year-old Simon Crimmons there's really not much to do. He can hang around with his pals or his first-ever girlfriend, Nikki, he can dream about a first motorbike to get him out of the Port and among the hills, but in truth he's going nowhere. The only local drama and romance is provided by the rural railway, and Simon ends up working on the trains by chance, thrown into a community of jaded older men. But that summer he is introduced to a world far more glamorous and strange. He meets the louche, bohemian Alex, and his dark, gorgeous sister, Varie: all that remains of 'the doomed family' of the great house at Broken Moan, where their father, Andrew Bultitude, is Commander of the Pass. When Simon falls in love with the otherworldly Varie he is suddenly given a freedom and mobility that is both thrilling and vertiginous. With The Deadman's Pedal, Alan Warner returns to the landscapes of Morvern Callar and his early novels: a world where the real and the surreal, grim trade unionists and the crazed aristocracy, live under the shadows of the same great mountains, along the same railway line.… (more)

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