Young Mungo

Recorded Books. Apr. 2022. 13:43 hrs. ISBN 9781705056554. $24.99. F
Like his debut Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, Stuart’s latest is a raw depiction of Glasgow in the Thatcher years—economically depressed, endemically alcoholic, and no safe place for a gay boy just discovering his sexuality. Stuart masterfully builds tension in two timelines as he flashes between the present, where Mungo ruefully follows two adult “friends” far into the woods on a fishing trip, and the events that led Momo (Maureen, never Mum or Ma) to send her son off with these acquaintances from Alcoholics Anonymous. In the past, Mungo finds sanctuary from his drunk, absentee mother and his gang leader brother at a dovecote built by James, beautiful, blond, and one year older. Friendship grows into attraction, but Catholic James is doubly forbidden by the codes that rule Mungo’s Protestant family. The situation in the present darkens to a nadir as they risk discovery and the inevitable violence it will bring. Glaswegian narrator Chris Reilly creates an authentic sense of place and characterizations that compel listeners to keep going despite the bleakness.
VERDICT A flawlessly narrated Scottish dialect matched to gut-wrenching writing make this bildungsroman a nonstop listen and a must-buy.
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