Find­ing hu­mour in a time of self-loathing

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.