Finding humour in a time of self-loathing
It is probably about music and its mnemonic power, but there is nothing like song lyrics for locating a person culturally. Feed someone the first half of a couplet of a song from their youth and years or even decades later they will sing the second back to you.
This tendency ensures that for anybody of a certain age And You May Find Yourself, Paul Dalgarno’s scarifying and blackly comic memoir of emigration, immediately invokes the lyrics of what is arguably Talking Heads’ most famous song, Once in a Lifetime.
It is a clever move on Dalgarno’s part, as the second halves of that particular couplet, “in another part of the world”, “in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife”, speak so eloquently to the experience of geographic and social dislocation that drives the book, while also foreshadowing the song’s still powerful sense of despairing isolation and alienation, its cry of: “This is not my beautiful house … this is not my beautiful wife!”
More deeply though, it connects Dalgarno’s narrative, which ostensibly deals with his decision to move from Scotland to Australia with