California (uber alles)

 

‘I’m a man with a goal, and I will reach that goal no matter what.’

 

Shug has learned well. His years with a Jarvis-Cocker-lookalike therapist during his stay in Saughton Prison have given him something to aim for. A goal. California.

 

He’s virtually a reformed character now he’s been released. We learn that early doors as he treats the old man whose car he’s hijacked calmly and without resorting immediately to violence. The car he’s nicking is going to take him home, back to his ex-girlfriend’s

Falkirk home where his stash is hidden and into the territory of the two men with whom he robbed a post office and weren’t caught  – these are two men who Shug would like to have a word with, a quiet and rational word if they’re up for it. 

 

‘California’ is a thing of beauty. A real pocket rocket. The story has energy from the off, driven by the sense of purpose in the main character. Shug’s history comes to light as events move the plot forwards and this keeps the momentum up all the way through.
What I feel is particularly special is the way Shug is painted so sympathetically, in spite of his volatile emotions and unpleasant past. When he reaches the points when he has to make decisions that are make-or-break (will there be serious consequences or damage limitation?) the emotional pull is huge. If you’re like me, you’ll be screaming internally and at different points, ‘DO IT’ and ‘DON’T DO IT’ in the hope that Shug’s able to get the message somehow.

 

I loved it and think it’s likely that you will too.

 

A flawless gem.