The Sound of My Voice by Ron Butlin
- Literary Fiction
Ron Butlin’s The Sound of My Voice: Return of a Classic
Hosted by Lighthouse Bookshop
Ron Butlin’s The Sound of My Voice was first published by Canongate in 1987 and has since been released by a few different publishing houses, each time receiving rave reviews. After the first release, the novel faded into relative obscurity until Irvine Welsh picked up the book, naming it ‘One of the classic post-war Scottish novels. It’s simply a roaring success on all levels; it’s a genius piece of fiction’.
The story follows Morris Magella who is a 34-year old executive in a biscuit factory, a husband and a father of two, a music lover and a drunk. The novel both explores the story of an alcoholic turning to drink as a solution, as well as presenting the modern man’s struggle and a desperate attempt to recover humanity.
On Friday night (6th April), Lighthouse Bookshop hosted a lovely event to celebrate the book’s stylish re-release by Birlinn, by inviting Ron Butlin to talk to us about his journey with the book so far and to introduce a new audience to the novel.
After a short introduction by the editor, we are treated to the engaging and humorous nature of Ron Butlin who quickly announces that it will be a spontaneous evening and that discussion might jump from point to point!
And in the most positive way, it is indeed a spontaneous night that reflects Butlin’s organic writing style that consists of treating his words like a piece of music and letting himself follow where his imagination takes him. He claims he never makes plans for his books, suggesting that ‘thinking is overrated’! It’s such a fascinating method and one that allows his characters to come alive. He does quip, however, that this is ‘not a modus operandi [he] recommend[s]; there are a lot of cul-de-sacs and scenic routes’!
It is such a delight to hear Butlin read extracts from the novel and to listen to the author’s voice reading the witty and amusing extracts. It harks back to Scottish oral tradition, a custom that Butlin appreciates and, in my opinion, connects with the creative second-person narrative of the novel. Although Butlin admits that wasn’t specifically a choice he made but in fact ‘that was just how it came’, it still strikes me as having an orality about it, and this is highlighted through the readings.
The cosy setting of Lighthouse Bookshop and the amiable personality of Ron Butlin make for an entertaining night that succeeds in inspiring a new audience of readers to not only get stuck into The Sound of My Voice themselves, but to spread the word to everyone else as well!
Get your hands on the book either online or at the lovely Lighthouse Books:
By Kim Ford for Love Books Group
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