#239 Morvern Callar

I have been very absent (both in reading and in updating this) recently, which I suspected may happen with my return to college (until September – which probably means very slow progress on the two books I’m currently halfway through – and have been halfway through for about a month) because it’s cut out my weekly commutes and meant almost all free time is devoted to studying (or guiltily thinking about studying… more the former so far, thankfully).
I read Morvern Callar by Alan Warner about a month ago and my lack of posting about it should not be taken as a reflection of how much I enjoyed it: it was a really good book and Morvern is an interesting character. Through her detached, first person narration we are told the story of how she comes home one day shortly before Christmas to find her boyfriend has killed himself in their flat; after unwrapping the Christmas presents he’d got her she steps over his body, borrows his jacket and goes to her shift at the local supermarket. I’m not completely sure why she doesn’t tell anyone he’s died – whether she was worried she’d be blamed or because she thought she might not get any of his money (she unblinkingly withdraws all the money from his bank account and is pleasantly surprised to find he’s also left her his savings – and yet still she didn’t strike me as a gold digger) – but she calmly and collectedly removes his body to the attic (and then eventually chops it up and buries it, scattered around the Scottish countryside) in a very matter of fact way – somehow without seeming like an American Psycho esque maniac. She takes it very much in her stride which I found puzzling but also very refreshing that she just gets on with her life. I think her narrative style casts her as a normal girl in a very strange situation: when she gets the rest of his money the first thing she does is book tickets for her and her best friend to go to “a resort” in Spain and treats everyone to lots of drinks at the local pub.
The only thing I didn’t like is that it’s quite a short book and I would like to find out what happens to Morvern next (she does return to Scotland at the end – I don’t think that really gives anything away) and I think she might feature in Alan Warner’s other books (so I’ll have to check which and whether they’re on the list). I know there is a film of it but I’m not sure how much I’d want to see it – it was quite an exiting story told in a flat way which I thought worked very well in print but I’m not sure how well it would translate to film – especially since one of the most appealing things is the way in which Morvern is telling the story (well, the way in which Alan Warner has Morvern tell the story to be exact).

I am currently in something of a moral dilemma whether to break from the list momentarily to give myself the chance to read Harper Lee’s new novel (otherwise I’ll be waiting until I’m 50+ at this rate !). Maybe as a post exam treat – watch this space.


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