One of my ‘featured’ event authors is Angus Shoor Caan. I like his short stories. I like his Ayrshire dialect. I loved Tatty Zkowen’s Perfect Day Trilogy (though it’s the devil to spell every time I try it) particularly for the dogs. And he suggested I try ‘The Reader’ as an example of an author ‘doing something different’ in terms of the relationship with character,narrator and author. Boy was he right. So here, in advance of the ‘event’ (still another couple of months to go for that) is a review of The Reader. I felt it would be an appropriate thing to post about on McVoices with Angus being a fellow ‘wee voice’. And this is in eager anticipation of the ebook release of Skoosh – one of the books mentioned in The Reader (forthcoming from the McStorytellers publishing stable).
Confused. You will be! In my opinion Angus is a very ‘big voice’, disguised as a ‘wee voice’. And I’m off to download Parallel Lives – the man is addictive. Why not check out Angus’ Books page on this site once you’ve read the review.
The Reader by Angus Shoor Caan
This is a cleverly conceived piece of writing on a number of levels. It works as a ‘tease’ to get you interested in other work by the author, and it gives you a good flavour of his unique writer’s style. I keep coming back to the notion that this is Jackanory meets phone sex line. It’s definitely an adult read!
Wryly, the narrator (whom we cannot fully believe but cannot entirely disbelieve as the author) tells us of his plan to get more readers. It’s all about ebook visibility. And using social media. This writer as narrator goes one step further than the rest of us and sets up a webcam ‘reading’ service, where, for money, he will read out his novels chapter by chapter via a video link. This is a a) possibly a really good practical idea which might be copied by many ‘struggling’ authors, b) a humorous conceit and c) fraught with possibilities for all kinds of ‘action’. It may make you look at Skype in a totally different way. In more than one sense it’s quite a brilliant idea, but as the narrator (or should we call him the reader now to distinguish him from narrator and/or author?) finds out, he cannot escape getting drawn into the ‘real’ lives of the people he reads to.
Thus we are drawn into a sort of latter day picaresque adventure which crosses continents and constantly surprises both us and The Reader himself. It’s all so bizarre and yet it’s all so completely plausible. This is tight rope walking at its best. You cannot help but keep asking yourself ‘but is this really Angus? Can he really have done this?’ And this of course is what he wants you to think. He plays us like so many fish all the way through the story. I do not so much take my hat off to him as ask him to unhook me! You leave the story asking ‘Just who is Angus Shoor Caan?’ Will the ‘real’ Angus Shoor Caan please stand up. Who is hiding where? But certainly this author is alive and kicking.
The ‘action’ of the story is in some sense (for me) secondary to the narrative conceit which has been thus cleverly constructed. It is complex and clever and draws you in as well as achieving its other goal – making you desperate to read his other works. The ‘story’ – well that’s up to you to find out for yourself. And if you ask nicely, who knows, Angus may even give you a private reading!
Want to know more? Why not check out Angus’ Books page on this very site as the first stage in your journey to enlightenment.
Other books by ‘wee voices’ that will feature in this ‘event’ include Brendan Gisby’s The Bookies Runner and my own Another World is Possible. So those who like to be well prepared now have a reading list for those long hot summer days we all anticipate between now and August.