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The Smiling School for Calvinists

by Bill Duncan

A humorous collection of short stories set in Dundee. The setting maybe mundane but this is more than compensated for by the bizarre range of characters. One man is swallowed by his pet snake and wants to sue the medical authorities for killing the snake when they got him out, another keeps a cockerel in a cage and it grows so big that it has to stay there, whilst the gravedigger (a perfectionist at his work) drinks himself to death in the crawlspace above the lift shaft. Even the saddest of these tales is narrated with such upbeat humour that you won't know whether to laugh or cry.

Extract

The shape reappeared, set against the light, an the aald man's faither could make oot a cage wi a great pair o scaly legs wi big claas stickin oot the sides, movin across the flair taewards him. He made as if tae tak a breenge oot the door when Rab signalled him tae sit doon, coaxin the thing across the room wi 'That's a lass. Good hen, Bertha.' Bertha, Rab's hen, the giant cockerel that had ended up bigger than its aen cage, tae the point whaur it wiz hard tae say whut wiz cage and whut wiz burd. As the great sad beast waddled slowly by, Rab looked at it affectionately, sighin, 'A bit slow on the eggs, but a companionable enough burd, forbye.'

A couple o days later the RSPCA appeared efter bein alerted beh the aald man's faither, took wan look at the creature an contacted the fire brigade, who sent roond a man tae separate the cage fae the burd.

Parallels

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
A Calendar of Love and Other Stories by George Mackay Brown
 

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