December 08, 2018

BLOGMAS| Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole Me Ma

Tony Hogan bought me an Ice Cream Float before he Stole my Ma
Kerry Hudson

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UK Publisher: Vintage Books
UK Release Date: July 5th, 2012


When Janie Ryan is born, she's just the latest in a long line of Ryan women, Aberdeen fishwives to the marrow, always ready to fight. Her violet-eyed Grandma had predicted she'd be sly, while blowing Benson and Hedges smoke rings over her Ma's swollen belly. In the hospital, her family eyed her suspiciously, so close she could smell whether they'd had booze or food for breakfast. It was mostly booze.

Tony Hogan tells the story of a Scottish childhood of sordid council flats and B&Bs, screeching women, feckless men, fags and booze and drugs, the dole queue and bread and marge sandwiches. It is also the story of an irresistible, irrepressible heroine, a dysfunctional family you can't help but adore, the absurdities of the eighties and the fierce bonds that tie people together no matter what. Told in an arrestingly original -- and cry-out-loud funny -- voice, it launches itself headlong into the middle of one of life's great fights, between the pull of the past and the freedom of the future. And Janie Ryan, born and bred for combat, is ready to win.


I don't know about stealing anyone's Ma, but this little book may have stolen my heart. A fictionalized and deeply personal account of growing up within a dysfunctional matriarchal family. And I have never seen myself reflected more in a book.
‘Still the same old Irene Ryan, yeh’ll never change. Runt of the litter, a black sheep. Runnin’ off tae London and getting intae God knows what. Runnin’ around wi’ a Yank that couldn’t get shot of yeh quick enough. You always were a nut job but I ignored the gossip, held my head high an’ I never loved yeh any less.’
When reading, you can't help but get entranced by Janie's narrative voice that provides the backbone to the Ryan women's filthy mouths, tempers, and their strength. But with that comes the internal and external struggle of women's identities. A rather common constructs within working class narrative and communities that are evident during the peak of class fiction on the 1960's. 
...that first promise of silence shattered inside of me like the twist of a kaleidoscope; to be joined by so many more jagged secrets, pushed into a little body for safe keeping until they threatened to cut their way out. 
This book certainly doesn't hold back on the violence, language, drugs and any other questionable content that drags down the working class portrayal in the media, but what Hudson does so wonderfully is show that experience with the capacity of the struggle of wanting more from that life and the taught elastic that so few people want nor get to snap away from.  


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