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Freshby Mark McNay
Synopses & Reviews
The clock is ticking for Sean O'Grady. Today, his psychotic brother has been granted an early release from prison. By tonight, he will come to collect the money Sean is holding. The problem — all the money's been spent. Welcome to a day in the life of Sean O'Grady — husband, father, and worker in a chicken-processing factory on the outskirts of Glasgow.
As the novel opens on another seemingly typical day, Sean's world comes crashing down when he hears the news that his brother Archie has unexpectedly been released from prison. A terrifyingly violent career criminal, Archie is coming home to collect the money Sean was holding for him. But there's a problem: Sean has spent the money, assuming he would have plenty of time to replenish Archie's stash. As the day progresses and tensions escalate, Sean explores increasingly desperate ways of getting back the money.
With a tight time frame, shaped by Archie's looming return, Fresh offers the reader a charged narrative full of grim comedy and foreboding, leavened by Sean's natural optimism, resilience, and his habit of slipping into fantasies of a more dashing and glamorous existence.
"Winner of the 2007 Arts Foundation Fellowship for New Fiction, McNay's uneven debut offers a glimpse into the life of Sean O'Grady, a chicken-processing — plant worker from the downtrodden outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland. When Sean learns that his brother, Archie, is being released from prison early, Sean, between Walter Mittyesque daydreams, scrambles to come up with the 700 of Archie's money he spent while his brother was locked up. After a bank refuses Sean a loan (he applies for it dressed in 'fat-splattered overalls'), Sean turns to Albert, his uncle and co-worker, for help. Together, they formulate a plan, but it fails. The money problem is soon easily dispatched, but bigger trouble comes when Archie bullies Sean into taking part in a drug deal. Interspersed are stomach-churning tidbits about the food industry and Sean's recollections of his and Archie's childhood, in which Archie's rapid descent into a life of crime is revealed. Using a mix of street slang and Scottish burr (and third- and first-person narration), McNay convincingly portrays life in a small industrial town, though the phonetically rendered Scots dialogue can be tough going, and the plot doesn't truly take off until about halfway into the novel. Comparisons to early Irvine Welsh aren't unwarranted." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Mark McNay was born in Glasgow and was raised in a former mining village. Upon failing his electrical engineering course, he moved to England where he spent fifteen years doing odd jobs, including construction, factory work, and window cleaning. He graduated from the University of East Anglia Creative Writing Course. He currently lives in Norwich, working with people suffering from mental health problems. Fresh is his first novel.
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