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The Deadman's Pedal

by Alan Warner

Isn't it every boy's dream to be a train driver? Meet Simon, dropping out of school at 16 to do just that. Don't expect a straightforward read - various strands build into a complex and satisfying pattern with a wonderful sense of place. The prose sings, the dialogue crackles and don't worry - no interest in trains is required!

Extract

She swung her leg over as if onto a horse and sat across the saddle in Nikki's former place, pushing her body against his back.
Simon said, 'If I knew you were in your house, I'd blow the train horn every time I went by.'
'Would you? Will you in the summer, when I'm back for the holidays?'
'Of course I will.'
'Would you really? I'd love that. Toooot-toot.'
She seemed to imagine herself already in her bed and lay the side of the motorcycle helmet against Simon's shoulders. She yawned then sighed sadly. 'But that's all too romantic, isn't it?' Her voice vibrated through Simon's shoulders. 'Tooting your train whistle for me. It would be like we had a midnight tryst, you signalling to me from over the other side of the river. One toot and you can't sneak over but two toots and you can so I've to take off my T-shirt. I would say, "Father, that sound is my working-class lover Si, driving his train, and we are going to elope together and there's nothing you or the Church can ever do."'
Simon couldn't turn all the way round to look at her, so he spoke facing forwards, 'Perhaps we should?'
'What?'
'Elope?' He zipped up the bomber jacket.

Parallels

The Crow Road by Iain Banks
Lanark by Alasdair Gray
 

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