Young Mungo: The No. 1 Sunday Times Bestseller
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My mother and my brother would still be alive. So much of my life has been coping with the grief of losing them. A warm thank you to Netgalley, the author and Grove Atlantic for an e-copy. This was released April 2022 and I am providing my honest review. Spanish: Un lugar para Mungo, lit.'A Place for Mungo'. Translated by Francisco González López. Barcelona: Random House. ISBN 9788439741442.
I also enjoyed the structure and how well Stuart navigates between the two timeframes, bringing them beautifully together for a final chapter that is nothing less than devastating, yet hopeful. I am not ashamed to admit that tears were shed. I for one would love for Stuart to complete a trilogy of Glasgow novels. ‘Old Mungo’ would be as satisfying a title as any for the third, because one thing that fascinates me about the world of extreme poverty, deprivation, and violence depicted so powerfully here is what modern Glasgow looks like beneath the scars of her brutal past. What is this city and its people like today? What remains of the tenements? Is it haunted by the blood and violence that stalked its streets and took place behind closed doors?with some of the most gorgeous writing and intimate storytelling there ever was. From tender to bloodthirsty brutal….. Norwegian: Unge Mungo. Translated by Hilde Stubhaug. Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag. 19 May 2022. ISBN 9788205563469.
The book plays out in two halves. The first set over a number of months is Mungo’s life in the period up to, during and after his relationship with James. The second a few months later is the aftermath, the book opening with Mo-Maw sending him on a rather hastily arranged fishing and camping trip to a remote Scottish loch with two men she knows from AA (Gallowgate and St (Sunday-Thursday) Christopher) – the two having proposed it as a way to man-up Mungo – the trip itself forming the second narrative strand.I’m also totally torn on how to rate this book. I didn’t enjoy it at all but I can appreciate the writing. The story is so heavy, it’s like walking around with 20# weights on your shoulders. But that’s the point.
Make a list of bad things that could happen in a literary fiction. You will find every item on that list in this novel. It felt like misery porn. Not one good thing happens to anyone! Sensitive readers, stay away from the book. I won’t give a list of trigger warnings so just trust me on this: every single triggering issue is in this storyline. Some of these scenes were way too graphic. Preston, Alex (3 April 2022). "Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart review – another weepy from a writer on a roll". The Observer. Archived from the original on 10 April 2022 . Retrieved 24 February 2023. In a Nutshell: Depending on what you like as a reader, you are either going to love this book or hate it. Very few will fall in the in-between range. Unfortunately for me, I hated it. The audiobook made matters worse.
I can see how some readers will go gaga over this book. Those who believe literary fiction serves its purpose best if it delves into the dreary side of human existence might love this story. But it simply wasn’t my cup of tea.