Monday, 6 January 2020

The Fall of Kelvin Walker - Alasdair Gray

Gray died last week, aged 85. It occurred to me I have never read his fiction, so I got hold of this 1985 novella. It's about a prim Scottish nobody who runs away to London, beginning an unlikely rise to great fame and an inevitable fall. It's a modern parable about the thirst for fame, the transitory nature of fame, and the monsters that crave it.
 Kelvin Walker does not start off a monster. He's the oppressed youngest son of a Scottish Wee Free grocer. He has no experience, no qualifications, yet believes himself  capable of achieving great things. So he turns up in Swinging London in his plus fours and Hitler haircut and blags his way into the BBC. He is so counter-cultural that he attracts a cult following on TV, and live on TV he is brought down.

Gray's views on the BBC are made plain. His writing is punchy and funny. I shall investigate further.

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