x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Waterline: following a lost soul down the River Clyde

Ross Raisin paints a moving portrait of a Glasgow man's descent into the agony of alcoholism after his wife dies.

Mick Little is a man trapped in a vortex of despair. His wife has died and his descent into alcohol abuse and homelessness is a tragedy almost waiting to happen.

Raisin's gift is to paint a moving portrait of a Glasgow man's suffering as an almost inevitable fable of the times we are living in.

Mick, a minicab driver, is mourning his wife Cathy, who ironically died from mesothelioma - a result of dutifully washing Mick's overalls after his days working in the shipyards on the River Clyde.

Raisin's use of Glaswegian patois without going over the top - no James Kelman he - gives the novel an instant vibrancy that lets us engage with Mick and share his jaundiced view of the world. Sentences end with the word "but"; characters say "how" when they mean "why" and the word "pieces" is substituted for the sandwiches Mick ends up foraging for.

The author doesn't attempt to define when Mick's downfall becomes inevitable but lets the drama unfold by using the present tense throughout - a modern technique, but one that rather taints the novel's nuances. Satisfying.