by Alasdair Gray ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 29, 1986
From the quirky Gray (Lanark, 1981; 1982 Janine, 1984), an energetic little picaresque in which an ambitious Scottish boy heads for London to make his fame and fortune. Kelvin Walker is the son of a stern Scottish grocer (they live in the tiny, almost primitive town of Glaik) who believes firmly in God (Walker Sr. belongs to the John Knox Street Free Seceders Presbyterian Church). But Kelvin is infatuated with Nietzsche, arrogant free will, and the notion that God is dead, so he concocts a plan to take the world by storm: he will go to London and arrange interviews for himself at various companies, using the name of a famous Scottish BBC producer, Hector McKellar; once inside the office, he will explain the ruse and ask for a job (not less than 5,000 pounds a year), expecting to be rewarded for his audacity. Once in London--where he knows no one--he is taken in by a kindly hippie couple, Jill and Jake, who are fascinated by his driving ambition and what strikes them as a kind of masochism--for Kelvin is thrown out of office after office as soon as he reveals his real identity. But one day the real Hector McKellar gets wind of the scheme and invites Kelvin to the BBC; finding himself in the presence of a natural con artist, he gives Kelvin a screen test and the rest is history: in a matter of months Kelvin Walker is the hottest talk-show host around, skewering the rich and famous with his probing questions. He has also wooed Jill away from Jake and is in the process of turning her into a suburban housewife when she realizes what an insufferable prig and bootlicker he's become, and flees back to Jake. Thus the fall of Kelvin Walker begins: his friends, sensing weakness, turn away, and his colleagues suddenly attack him. By the close, Kelvin has become a minister, far less ""absurd, attractive and demonic"" than he was at his peak, ""but more comfortable."" Marred by a too pat ending, this offers some offbeat charms along the way--especially when Kelvin is on the rise in London.
Pub Date: Aug. 29, 1986
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1986
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