Scabby Queen by  Kirstin Innes

Scabby Queen

Kirstin Innes

Take a canvas, add daubs of Citizen Smith, splatters of a rousing pop anthem and frame with It's a Wonderful Life. Not only a portrait of a complex and divisive woman, but a story with plenty to say about society, gender and celebrity. The narrative comes from multiple perspectives, drawing the reader into the lives of all the characters, even those for whom Clio Campbell was a chance encounter. I don't normally do politics, but I loved this.


It must have been well over three years since Sam had checked in on any of Clio's intense, shouty social-media feeds. A while since she'd thought about her, even. She sat there, hunched over her phone in the corner of the café near Elliot's football practice, frying smell in her nose, letting it all pour back in. Obituaries and despairing tweets from fans, articles and discussions, video clips with the sound turned down. She thought about the reality of Clio. That thin frenzied woman, in her bedsit with beanbags, turning up unannounced to disrupt a working day, pungent, unwashed and urgent, trailing chaos. She looked at the way two months of death had crafted her into something else, a statue of her, built out of words and pictures, a statue that didn't need to be anything like the reality. That wasn't the point.

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