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Way To Go Paperback – 3 Jun 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New edition edition (3 Jun. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753807327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753807323
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

A major new novel about the Scottish way of death, from the McVitie's Scottish Author of the Year 1996

About the Author

Alan Spence is an author of poetry, novels, short stories and plays. He was born in Glasgow and is now based in Edinburgh where he and his wife run the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre. Alan has received many awards for his writing and is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen, where he is also the artistic director of the annual Word Festival.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Alan Spence has a writing style that is very easy to get caught up in; if you are like me you'll fly though this book. He doesn't dwell long on a scene, but moves through quickly and reading this book is a bit like being taken on a quick tour of someone's life - full of interesting events but you never stop long at any point. And to that extent this is a pretty enjoyable read. The book is very readable, its undoubtably funny (in places) and full of colourful characters.

But it also has means its fairly hard to engage with many of the characters. It's a bit light. The whistle-stop tour approach is also taken with death and the meaning of life. He flies past lots of other cultural approaches to funerals that tells you little, beyond people, and cultures, are different. In places the book is a bit obvious, and the characters not that well realized - I found at times there were passages of dialog where the character's were almost indistinguishable from each other; it felt like I was really listening to Alan Spence talk, not any of the people in the book. Some of the characters are a little close to stereotypes (the hippies, the bikers, the drunken Glaswegian father) for me to connect to much with them.

In his other books (for example The Pure Land (Paperback)) this style works better. I'd read him again and I can't say I disliked this. It just felt a bit disappointing in places, and I've certainly read better.
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Format: Paperback
Wow. This book is absolutely beautiful. It had me hooked from the start, Spence's writing style is so fresh. The opening line sets the tone right away

"I sat up in the coffin, reading a comic and eating a sherbert fountain."

Neil's dark sense of humour had me in stitches but his train of thought was often so profound I was forced to put the book down and think about what exactly he was saying.

Death is such a taboo subject in our culture, it is so vigorating to read a book that so openly accepts our fate and is able to laugh in the face of it. The final pages had me in tears but I felt it was a fitting end to such a unique book.

I would recommend this book to everybody, especially if you are looking to broaden your horizons and just let go over the everyday mundane worries. This book contemplates the bigger things in life and I absolutely loved it.
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Format: Paperback
I read this because a friend has to read it for her English degree at uni and I knicked it whilst sitting in an airport. I was hooked however and refused to return it until a week later when I'd finished it. It's a relatively short read but I wish it had been longer - I want more!

Alan Spence is a great writer, I loved his style and it felt good to be reading a Scottish book for once. It comes as a bit of a shock every so often when the book drastically switches locations, from Glasgow to London to India etc but you get used to it and realise it's part of the story, the charm of the writing.

This book is really interesting and visits all different attitudes and ceremonies that deal with death all over the world in every culture. It is also very funny and a pleasure to read, you won't want to put it down. You too will want to know just as the main character, Neil McGraw, does - what happens when you die?

I learned a lot about death but the book also shows the lifespan of Neil McGraw and it told me, it's okay to just do what you like and not have to know what you want your future and career to be. He leaves home young with no options, makes many friends and travels a lot and dies a better man for it. I liked this book so much I had to have my own copy to read again and again in the future. Get your own copy now!!
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Format: Paperback
Alan Spence has a style which is light and readable though the subject matter is challenging. I was sold on this book when I read part of an early chapter where the undertakers son makes his quiet protest by reading a comic, eating a sherbet dip & drinking Irn Bru while sitting in a coffin.
Way to go is a journey of growing up and feeling alien to your parents way of life. Being unable to understand them and unable to communicate meaningfully with them. Walking - if not running - away to find that there is no escape from death. Youth's assumption of immortality repeatedly challenged, a curiosity and a spectrum of cultures bring enlightenment home to a provincial scottish setting.
It is told in a remarkable way which brings laughter through the tears and tears to bring balance to the laughter. When I go... let me find an undertaker with compassion, an open mind and a sense of humour!
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