Par - Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain est une superbe histoire essentiellement en trois parties. Dans les première et dernière parties, nous rencontrons Shuggie après qu'il ait physiquement échappé aux événements de la longue partie médiane.

The bulk of the main story concerns Shuggie’s mother, Agnes, an alcoholic and struggling to control her alcoholism, bring up three children, experience some sort of life, realise her hopes and ambitions, and negotiate the people around her. Her love for kids is manifest but she and they are doomed by drink, vicious neighbours and an absence of any true friends. She meets a man she liked but even he betrays her in the most convincing & destructive way.

The author has set the novel in an eighties Scotland and tried to create a social environment in which Shuggie’s family tries to live. Agnes’ strong desire to do or achieve something to rise out of her poverty and degradation are thwarted time and again by her alcoholism, uncaring – even absent- local and national governments, and by a cold society isolating & degrading her along with her family. Logically, this extremely unpleasant environment did not just spring up with the new government; it had been festering for years. Agnes didn’t have a chance.

Au milieu de cette situation (pleine de problèmes), nous trouvons Shuggie, un garçon décent, apparemment condamné, qui s'efforce de faire face et de prendre soin de sa mère aimante mais incapable et qui s'aggrave progressivement, ainsi que de négocier à la fois sa sexualité naissante et les pièges de simplement grandir. en haut. La chaleur de sa mère et sa culpabilité face à son sort, l'affection convaincante et bien masquée de son frère, sont clairement décrites dans la description ainsi que dans un langage convenablement granuleux. J'avais l'impression d'écouter la voix des habitants de Glasgow, démunis et en difficulté.

The landscape and emotional life of the book are stark & bleak but the superb quality of the written language in its ordinary form carries the reader through to the final section. This is a narrative novel. It does have a kernel of redemptive seed to it. Three quarters through, Shuggie goes to cash a benefit book for mother. The regulation-spouting cashier considers refusing to oblige but eventually pays when the queue becomes impatient. As she does so, she dispenses a few words of wisdom representing the only real hope Shuggie really has. It’s a crucial scene, all the more poignant because the cashier – however distantly – represents callous officialdom.

Towards the end there is a tragicomic development when an acquaintance invites Shuggie along to makeup numbers on a date (of sorts!) A beam of hope under a louring Glasgow sky. Is the hope realised? I won’t spoil it.