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Deborah Orr’s memoir Motherwell

I started reading this ‘moving’ memoir and found, rather like a happy restaurant critic, tiny fizz-pops of pleasurable recognition on my metaphorical tongue: a Scottish childhood, sherbet dabs, Colville’s Steelworks, heading out into what passed as country to escape town-ness and so on.

Deborah Orr is a journalist and writes like one. I swither as to whether this is, in her case, a pejorative or not …

The zings of fellow-feeling were quite quickly followed by increasing irritation as the reader (or at least, this reader) was sucked into psychobabble-land: if I read ‘narcissism’ once, I felt I had read it a gazillion times. To the point where I was yelling at my e-reader, ‘You’re the biggest narcissist in the goddam room!!’ (Which may have been her point and I just missed it).

Yes your ma and pa may well have been miserable narcissists (because the one thing of interest I learned from this book is, narcissists are not happy with themselves, quite the opposite) but sheesh! You went the long way around the houses and back to gie them laldy, hen.

This is one of quite a few books I read to avoid Anna Burns’s Milkman: on checking, in a moment of severe ennui, where I had got to in this ‘Marmite’ book, 17% hit me like a gob of spit between the eyes. Slough of Despond. How to go on with this rather annoying … thing? By 19% I decided not to bother. Thus leading to five Val McDermids hitherto undiscovered and several keepers. Motherwell is not one of those, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s a ‘don’t read’. It is readable, and strong stuff, but probably I’m just a GOF.

Reviewed by a Library member