I must admit, it’s been a while since I read any of Alan Bissett’s work, Boyracers might have been my last. Picking up his new novella, published by Speculative Books, Lazy Susan has a similarly date and time feel to it, in that it feels rooted in an immediacy and place that grounds us in the now.
Susan Q Martin, the central character and 22 year old care home worker, tis also a social media influencer, as least she thinks so. With a feisty feminist edge to her vigour and opinionated viewpoints, as well as a poignancy at times, Susie Q is a well-rounded character. The narrative structure itself is interesting as is the use of Scots, with it being a novella that has a different ending depending on which path you take throughout with Susie in mind. And Bissett’s female voice is of course notable, and not a first for him. There was of course his Moira Monologues, developed over a decade since 2009, and Susie Q seems to incorporate as much wit and comic dialogue as his character Moira Bell more than a decade previous.
Yet there is also relativity to Susan’s character all be her apparent confidence in controlling men for her own excitement, with her contemplation of life, and whether she should consider the life of her friends and not negate their validity. There is a degree of poignancy during that moment in travel, depending on which of the narratives you chose for Susan. Her realisation that she was travelling down to the Edinburgh Festival on somewhat of a whim, nothing set in stone, with a mother and friends that barely contact her, the self doubt is more than hinted at here. Her voice is so powerful throughout this novel in these moments and those where she is handed a microphone, or even better a studio seat and TV appearance. Pacey, gritty, fearless and with Scots and humour injected, this novella from Bissett is worth the afternoon. Cause and effect is explored as well as sexual abuse, a coming of age and a degree of agency in this novella, rendering it rich in style and substance.
Lazy Susan is for the taking, it won’t disappoint. It’s out now, published by Speculative Books