The number one rule for writers is to write what you know. Douglas Stuart knows exactly what he is writing about and it’s amazing he escaped his childhood. Set in the 1980’s Glasgow Scotland recession, Shuggie Bain is a young boy who tries to navigate life with an alcoholic mother who is both destructive and self-destructive.
When I was young I shied away from this story because I thought I knew it all from the movies and I thought Tiny Tim was sappy. But for the past couple of decades I have re-read this beautiful little book almost every Christmas and everytime I come away with a new insight; sometimes small, sometimes big.
It’s not too late to read it for Christmas this year. It’s a short book and can easily be read in an evening. When our kids were young we read it a once or twice in the lead up to Christmas; reading 1 chapter a night. The kids are all grown up now so I read it on my own.
Far and away my favorite of the five Ivan Doig novels I’ve read. If you enjoy expansive, well-written stories of the American West, this trilogy, and especially this novel is a great place to dive in.
Jick McCaskill comes of age in 1930’s Montana.
The best book I’ve read all year.