Alan Bissett

Playwright, novelist, performer, bletherer.

PACK MEN (2011)

 ‘That’s why aw this-‘ Cage lifts his lager can, sweeps it round 180 degrees. ‘-means so much tay a man.’
The crowd stamps and claps, a hundred and fifty thousand voices blending into one.

In 2008 Glasgow Rangers FC reached a major European final. It was held in Manchester, a short hop from Scotland into England. Cue a colossal invasion: the largest movement of Scots over the border in history and the first time in hundreds of years that an English city was taken over. Chaos reigned.

Pack Men is the fictional story of three pals and one child trapped inside this powderkeg. In a city rocking with beer, brotherhood and sectarianism, the boys struggle to hold onto their friendship, as they turn on each other and the police turn on them. And somehow one of them has to disclose a secret which he knows the others won’t want to hear…

With this novel, one of Scotland’s leading young writers has created a scuffed comedy about men not bonding and Britain unravelling.

‘Bissett was there, and his novel vividly recalls the so-called Battle of Piccadilly…Casts an unsparing eye over the sectarian pollution of Scottish society.’ – The Guardian

‘A landmark in Scottish fiction.  A unique and special novel. I honestly haven’t read anything as impressive as this from a Scottish writer in yonks’ – Irvine Welsh

‘He writes subtly, intelligently and also passionately about men.  An outstanding novel.’ – Scotland on Sunday

‘Alan Bissett has written a daring book.  More importantly, he’s written a very fine book.  He is extremely adept at dramatic narrative.  It’s the quality of the writing that makes this novel so impressive, it’s in finding the heart, the comedy and the human possibilities in a seemingly catastrophic event that makes this Bissett’s best novel yet.’ – Chris Dolan, Sunday Herald

‘Alan Bissett somehow invests an originality and freshness that’s uncommon in a genre so often hackneyed.  His ear for cut and thrust, for chiv-sharp wit and tinder-dry insult is incisive, pitch-perfect, informed.  While the sentiments may be crude, the writing is subtle, well paced, authentic and compelling.  The reader is white-water rafting on a cesspit-flow of verbal regurgitation, repelled, but riveted by the ride. What most impresses is Bissett’s talent. His writing is underscored with wit and, against the odds, he imbues almost all of his characters with dignity, with the force to act against type – especially in a breathtaking, breakaway, counter-intuitive climax which  makes you gasp.’ – The Scotsman

‘A blistering, adrenaline-fuelled romp. Should be required reading for both sets of Old Firm supporters, as well as anyone interested in 21st Century Scotland.’ – Doug Johnstone, The List

“A powerful, raw, yet assured look at men and machismo.” – The National

‘Pack Men does what the author’s previous novels do so well: shines a light into the darkest corners of male psychology and behaviour, and finds, underneath the scorn and suffering, redeeming humanity.  Told with narrative flair and demotic brilliance, this is a hugely funny, ruthlessly honest, and desperately necessary book.  Bissett’s characters are complex, questioning, and always capable of surprising each other and the reader.  One of the funniest, most humane and insightful writers today.  Pack Men tackles an unsavoury subject with courage and compassion.’ – Sarah Hall, The Big Issue in the North

‘Pack Men is a wry, entertaining and mature work.  Bissett succeeds in making us root for the most unlikely of antiheroes, even as he implodes’ – Scottish Review of Books

‘If Scotland’s father of working class consciousness, James Kelman, had a literary son it might be Alan Bissett…funny, irreverent and moving.’ – Gutter

And here are some reviews from the blogosphere.

‘A hugely impressive novel…Alan Bissett has once more held a mirror up to Scottish society.’ – Scots Whay Hae!

‘Real, very honest, heartfelt, witty, hilarious, clever…tender too, full of conviction and affection.’ – Subtle Melodrama

‘Plays with your expectations and gradually pulls you to places you didn’t expect.’ – Curious Joe


Order Pack Men from WordPower Books

Listen to Pack Men interview with Scots Whay Hae! (the Fifth podcast)


One thought on “PACK MEN (2011)

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