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Issue 40 - AbookwithacentralFlaws

Whisky Magazine Issue 40
June 2004

 

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AbookwithacentralFlaws

Gutteredisadecadentandbawdydrinkingromp.PerfectterrainforJeffersonChase,then

Theproblemwithatitlethatstopsbookshopbrowsersintheirtracksisthattheentireworkhastomatchtheexpectationsraisedbythecover.TomMortonalmostpullsoffthisfeatinhis1999novelGuttered.

Morton–ajournalistwhomakeshishomeintheShetlandIslandsandhostsaweeklymusicprogrammeonBBCRadioScotland–hasagreatfeelforScottishdiction,especiallyatitsmostvulgar.Pairthatwithaknowledgeoftheterrainborninpartfromamotorcycletourthrough
some100distilleries,whichMortonmadeintheearly‘90s,andyou'vegottheingredientsforabawdy,cynicalandconsistentlyover-the-toptaleofdecadenceinthenortherlyreachesoftheBritishIsles.

Gutteredwasmarketedasacrimenovel,butthelabelismisleading.It'sreallyanextendedmeditationontheexistentialissuesofdrinkingcombinedwithanalmostDonDeLillo/ThomasPynchon-esqueconspiracytheoryofaplot.

ThenovelopenswiththeprotagonistAlexander‘Zander'Flaws,describedas‘theworld'sworstprivatedetective,'visitinghisGP.

Ismirked,pulledoutaGrantsofDalveysporranflaskfrommyjacketpocketandunscrewedthetop.‘Uisgebeatha,Hernia.Thewateroflife.Here'shealth!Slainte!'Ijustaboutmanagedtofindmymouthwiththecoolstainlesssteelspout,andfeltthepricklyliquidheatof16-year-oldLagavulin,neat,catchatmythroatandbeginitswarming,healingdescentintothegut,nippingattheulceratingacheinmygullet,thendullingit.Anoverwhelmingaromaofpeatsmoke,seaweedandancientsherrywoodengulfedme,ormaybeitwasjustamemoryofanancientdescriptioninsomecrapwhiskyguide.Then,withoutwarningorhopeofcontrol,Ithrewup,horribly,peatily,seaweedily.

ApologiestoMessersJack...

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