Book Review – Pack Men by Alan Bissett
Pack Men is a story about a group of friends who come together for a road trip to the 2008 UEFA Cup Final between their beloved Rangers and Zenit St Petersburg. Part fiction, part non, it celebrates mateship, soccer but exposes the underbelly of staunch patriotism and hooliganism.
The main character managed to flee the small town, working class mentality of his town to do a degree in English at University and the storyline flicks back and forth between the current road trip and game and his flashbacks to Uni and his childhood. And along the way we learn how one sees himself in the world compared to how others portray them, and how they fit into the ‘pack mentality’ that only men, Scottish men, soccer men, can understand.
It takes a while to come to grips with the Scottish command of the English language, but as you read on you find the language easier to translate and understand and it becomes an enjoyable feature of the book. As difficult to come to terms with, yet an enterprising way of writing the book has no chapters, written in one long narrative from go to woe with some interesting interpretation on how books should, or have traditionally, been written.
A great story with some fantastic humour and some out of left field twists, each character becomes a favourite.
It is a book where too much explanation will give away too much, but this is quite possibly the best fiction I have read in the last few years and I look forward to reading some of his other books.