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Toy Fights: A Boyhood (Hardcover)
“It’s wonderful, aggressively wise, and always—especially at its most serious—devastatingly funny.” —Geoff Dyer
For readers of Douglas Stuart and Nick Hornby comes an uproarious, tenderhearted memoir of growing up in working-class Dundee in the 1970s and 1980s.
Don Paterson is one of our most acclaimed contemporary poets, possessed of “an infinite sensitivity to the world” (Zadie Smith). But his current standing gives few hints of his hilariously misspent youth. An indifferent student prone to obsessions (with girls at school and . . . origami), Paterson nevertheless made clear early on his immense gift for observation. In Toy Fights, he vividly re-creates the customs of the Scottish working class, from the titular childhood game (“basically twenty minutes of extreme violence without pretext”) to the virtues of the sugary sweet known as tablet. When American pop culture arrived, Paterson fell hard for the so-called outlaw sound; by his teens, he was traveling with his father, a Stetson-wearing “country” musician, and becoming guitar-mad himself. A memoir of family, music, and highly inventive profanity, Toy Fights is an unforgettable account of the years we all spend in rehearsal for real life.
About the Author
Don Paterson was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2009, and is the only poet to have won the T. S. Eliot Prize on two occasions. He also works as a jazz musician. He lives in Kirriemuir, Scotland.
The prose is fizzing-brained, hyperbolic, and it has a hyperbolic effect: It makes you want to delete everything you’ve ever written and start again, this time telling the truth.
— James Parker - The Atlantic
[S]hot through with sharp wit . . . Most enchanting are Paterson’s musings on music, from hilarious reminiscences of the Dundee folk scene . . . to gorgeous homages to obscure performers . . . The result is a raucously funny picaresque laced with hard-earned wisdom.
— Publishers Weekly
As [Paterson] charts a path through the 1970s and ’80s, he deftly avoids the twin pitfalls of romanticism and nostalgia, instead describing the poverty, violence, and customs of his youth with evenhanded observation and often humor . . . A uniquely compelling, expressive memoir packed with explosive asides and raucous insight.
— Kirkus Reviews