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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Morvern Callar

Alan Warner

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Title: Morvern Callar
Author: Alan Warner
Genre: Novel
Written: 1995
Length: 178 pages
Availability: Morvern Callar - US
Morvern Callar - UK
Morvern Callar - Canada
Morvern Callar - France
Hin und Weg - Deutschland
  • Morvern Callar was made into a film of the same name in 2002, directed by Lynne Ramsay and with Samantha Morton in the title role

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Our Assessment:

B- : decently done atmospheric story, humorous and dark

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian A 21/2/1995 Elizabeth Young
New Statesman & Society C 10/3/1995 Brian Morton
The NY Times Book Rev. C 18/5/1997 Jennifer Kornreich
Salon B+ 17/4/1997 Charles Taylor
TLS . 31/3/1995 Andrew Biswell

  Review Consensus:

  No consensus. Some thought Morvern was a fabulous representation of disaffected youth, others thought it simply mindless sensationalism.

  From the Reviews:
  • "Morvern gleams out like onyx from a vivid, macabre and lyrical book." - Elizabeth Young, The Guardian

  • "While Morvern's opacity is obviously meant to convey hip disaffection, the novel's matter-of-fact amorality quickly grows tiresome. Mr. Warner's true forte is his deadpan rendering of the idiosyncratic trappings of Morvern's morbid world. Unfortunately, these appalling but convincing details never add up to anything in particular." - Jennifer Kornreich, The New York Times Book Review

  • "(Warner)'s created a heroine who's anything but empty, who spends much of her time trying to deaden the feelings crowding her insides. Morvern is engaging, determined to express what she can't quite articulate, and Warner is a compelling storyteller." - Charles Taylor, Salon

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Morvern Callar is the name of the book's heroine, a young Scots lassie working a dead end job at a supermarket. Finding her boyfriend dead one morning (a suicide), she hides the body, empties his bank account, and submits the book he has been writing to a publisher -- under her own name. The book is, naturally, accepted. Relatively cash rich from her boyfriend's money and the book advance she makes her way to the Mediterranean, where she enjoys the rave party scene. She does, however, return home, now pregnant, still with many unresolved issues (and the dead boyfriend, always a presence in the background).
       There is lots of Scottish darkness here, and many encounters with the down and out. The story is not especially compelling, though it does set out to shock. Morvern (who narrates the book) is a peculiarly jaded lass, and her take on the world (as exemplified by her attitude towards her suicided boyfriend) has a certain perverse appeal. Warner writes quite solidly, with a good feel for conversation (bizarre though these exchanges often are).
       There is enough here to amuse, and it makes an entertaining little read. A bit more meat to it might have helped, but it is a reasonable debut novel.

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Morvern Callar:
  • Vintage publicity page
  • Bold Type page, with links to excerpt and interview with Warner
Reviews: Morvern Callar - the film: Alan Warner: Other books by Alan Warner under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction

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About the Author:

       Scottish writer Alan Warner was born in 1964. He attended Glasgow University and his written several novels.

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