Maggie & Me by Damian Barr
t's 12 October 1984. An IRA bomb blows apart the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Miraculously, Margaret Thatcher survives. In small-town Scotland, eight-year-old Damian Barr watches in horror as his mum rips her wedding ring off and packs their bags. He knows he, too, must survive.
Damian, his sister and his Catholic mum move in with her sinister new boyfriend while his Protestant dad shacks up with the glamorous Mary the Canary. Divided by sectarian suspicion, the community is held together by the sprawling Ravenscraig Steelworks. But darkness threatens as Maggie takes hold: she snatches school milk, smashes the unions and makes greed good. Following Maggie's advice, Damian works hard and plans his escape. He discovers that stories can save your life and - in spite of violence, strikes, AIDS and Clause 28 - manages to fall in love dancing to Madonna in Glasgow's only gay club.
Maggie & Me is a touching and darkly witty memoir about surviving Thatcher's Britain; a story of growing up gay in a straight world and coming out the other side in spite of, and maybe because of, the iron lady.
“Certain memoirs catch a moment and seem to define it, bottle it ... Damian Barr, I suspect, is about to do something of the same with this hugely entertaining book ... Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one's assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting” – Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times
“Out of poverty, brutality and prejudice, Damian Barr builds something riveting, touching and painfully funny. His account of growing up under Thatcher's regime defines the experience of a generation. At once personal and universal, Maggie & Me is a work of stealthy genius” – Maggie O'Farrell
“This is the most vital, visceral memoir since Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? … Barr's depiction is so pungent, so earth-shattering it's a universal story of alienation – one for anyone who's ever felt desperate to escape. His childhood, evoked with such cheek-biting tenderness, now seems more real and more Technicolor than my own. I won't be happy until everyone reads this book” – Patrick Strudwick
Publication Date: 27/3/2014