Friday, January 18, 2008

Lunchtime read: tough, tough toys for tough, tough boys

Stories about the inner workings of the mind are filtered through the kaleidoscopic influences of drugs, lust and alcohol in Self’s writing. He manages to give a straight forward looking character a hidden chemical fuelled depth that makes it possible to warp perceptions. So you end up with cars the length of a city block, giants and doll sized women and drivers merging into their cars.

Tough, tough toys for tough, tough boys
A drug and drink fuelled Cracker like psychiatrist who specialises in helping the Police work out the motivations of lunatics is driving from Orkney to London. Slumped in his car, which becomes an extension of him, Bill cruises through winding windswept roads. Bill makes the decision to pick up a hitch hiker and in the miles and hours it takes to take the alcoholic loser to Glasgow Bill interrogates the passenger but is never asked anything about himself.

He leaves the hitchhiker and starts wondering more and more about a comment he made about the latter’s passion for getting drunk and sitting on large Tonka toys. He had been explaining to Bill how he sailed down the main street in Glasgow when the psychiatrist interrupted to quote at him the Tonka advertising strap line and this book’s title. That shuts up his passenger and as he drives off after dropping him off Bill muses on the fact that the qualities he frowned on in his passenger are exactly the same he has.

Design Faults in the Volvo 760 Turbo: A Manual
There are some great lines in this about England supporters going home to support the club on their own TV terraces. But it is also pretty confusing trying to work out what is reality and what is exaggerated dream. A simple case of adultery becomes dangerous for the owner of the Volvo after he starts to associate the name of the car with the act of sex with his mistress. He turns to a friend he has who runs a Volvo garage for help. But the friend, who always psychoanalyses the owner of the car rather than the fault in the engine, is about to climb into bed with the Volvo’s owner.

It is a clever twist with the car being the trigger that links the adultery of both husband and wife. But it is shrouded again in that mist of exaggerated imagery that I guess you either love or hate.

Final story to come maybe tomorrow…

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