DEVIL'S CAROUSEL Paperback – Aug 4 1997
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From Library Journal
"Working Stiffs" might have been the title of this novel, which is a wicked send-up of life in a Scotland auto factory?a "multi-nat," in the parlance of its tough, irreverent crew of characters. Nothing is sacred and nothing is spared in Torrington's merciless if humorous gaze, not the faked demise of a crafty union steward nor the real death of a luckless "nightshifter." The workers attempt to gain some measure of control over their working lives by dint of mischief, sarcasm, and pure cussedness until forced to confront their essential powerlessness in the end. The local slang and shop jargon, while sometimes difficult to follow, is effective in evoking the workers' world, and the ending, abrupt and pitiless, serves to point up the ironies of that world's collapse. Recommended.?Kay Hogan, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham, Info/Instructional Svcs.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Torrington wrote his acclaimed first novel, Swing Hammer Swing! (1994), when he was 58 and reportedly worked on it for more than 30 years. This follow-up is set in a Glasgow automobile plant, the Centaur Car Company, and follows the fortunes of several factory workers. Among the more memorable characters are Curly Brogan, the shop steward with incredibly bad body odor who attempts to fake his own death; Sputnik McQuirr, so unnerved at being issued a new number for his time card that he embarks on a vandalism spree; and Twitcher Haskins, the senior chief of security who, after being awarded an expensive pair of binoculars upon his retirement, finally espies the thief who's been pilfering auto parts for years. Chock-full of slang, Scottish dialect, and linguistic pyrotechnics, the novel is a somewhat difficult read. Yet the pun-loving Torrington offers a large dose of irreverent humor and an inside view of the sheer drudgery and in-the-trenches camaraderie of life on the assembly line. Joanne Wilkinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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Things in the plant run far from smoothly, and there is a slightly antagonistic relationship between the management and the workforce. The working conditions clearly don't take the workforce's best interests into account, though the grievances are probably nurtured by the shop stewards. (KIKBAK, a very unofficial and clued-in newssheet probably doesn't help either, and several articles also appear in the book). However, the management don't do themselves any favours : they keep themselves so far above the shopfloor, they are widely known as the Martians. (Only one Martian, Mal Kibbley, earns a starring role in one of the stories. The Martians are keen to build a top-of-the-range car, though they want it built without the workforce kept in the dark about it...accordingly, when the workforce find out what the Marians are trying to pull, they'll do everything the can to sabotage this perfect car's production). Unsurprisingly, the plant is rumoured to be in some trouble with the company's head office believed to be considering job cuts. Having said that, there are suggestions - as the book progresses - that the Bilbao plant is in a little more danger.
Most of the stories are about the ordinary workers - not the big picture - with each story having a different character taking the lead. (However, one story's lead character may, occasionally, pop up as another ctory's supporting character from time to time). There are a few stories that see characters die or suffer from breakdowns, which isn't too surprising given the health problems widely suffered by the workforce. One of the book's more memorable survivors, however, is Curley Brogan - such an effective shop steward that the Martians are actually afraid of him. However, since his personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired, his colleagues aren't overly fond of him either. Curley isn't one of the characters who die - however, he decides to have a little fun for a day or two by 'faking' his own death...a plan that, naturally, causes him a little bother.
However, nobody can find anything good to say aboutTwitcher Haskins - another string character. Twitcher - the nickname comes from the fact he's a keen birdwatcher - is a very petty individual and the plant's Security Chief. (The plant's security officers are known, colloquially, as the snipes - as the Security Chief, Twitcher is also known as the Supersnipe). Naturally, he has an arch-nemesis - the Magpie - who is responsible for all major acts of pilfering in the plant...and there's nothing Twitcher would like better than to cap his retirement with the Magpie's capture...
A very enjoyable book overall, and very easily read.