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A L Kennedy: Looking for the Possible Dance

Margaret is a young Scottish woman with two men in her life – her father and her boyfriend, Colin. Actually, there is a third one – her boss, Mr. Lawrence, whom she really does not like. She has been brought up in the traditional Scottish manner (there is a very funny list of the Scottish Method (for the Perfection of Children), including the first requirement Guilt is Good and going on to cover masturbation, the role of women, ritual and the subordinate role of Scotland in the order of things). Most of the new Scottish novels are written by men and show how subordinate Scotland is in the British pecking order. This novel goes one step further in showing that women are even further down the pecking order. Margaret works at the Community Link Centre which the employers christen the Fun Factory, not least because it is not. She had met Colin when they were the only Scots on an English Literature course at an English University. After university they had gone their separate ways but met up again in Glasgow three years later and resumed their relationship.

Most of the book is a humorous but slightly bitter account of Margaret’s life at the Centre – in particular the organization of a ceilidh – and her relationship with Colin, her colleagues, Mr. Lawrence and her father. But this is Glasgow and violence creeps in – the death of Mrs. Lawrence, the car accident, with the large pool of blood, that Colin and Margaret see, the girl that walks through a plate glass window in a café, culminating in the horrific climax as Colin pays a bitter price for preventing a loan shark from setting up a racket in the Centre. This novel, more than Welsh and Co., will give you a portrait of Scotland today.

Publishing history

First published 1993 by Secker and Warburg