The Guardian 13 May 2024

On the page, Damian Barr’s 2013 memoir is subtle and seductive. His coming-of-age tale is like a Scottish version of The End of Eddy by the French novelist Édouard Louis; two first-person accounts of growing up gay and working-class in the declining industrial hinterlands of the late 20th century. Both authors present themselves as bright and sensitive, ill equipped to deal with the domestic violence, homophobia and bullying that besets them.

Just as Louis understands his life in terms of political choices, Barr sees an equivalence between the end of steel-making at Ravenscraig in North Lanarkshire, the iniquities of the government’s homophobic section 28 legislation and the messianic individualism of prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Each is an expression of cruelty. [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).