Pack Men

By Alan Bissett
Pack Men by Alan Bissett

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Synopsis

'That's why aw this-' Cage lifts his lager can, sweeps it round 180 degrees. '-means so much tay a man.' The crowd stamps and claps, a hundred and fifty thousand voices blending into one. In 2008 Glasgow Rangers FC reached a major European final. It was held in Manchester, a short hop from Scotland into England. Cue a colossal invasion: the largest movement of Scots over the border in history and the first time in hundreds of years that an English city was taken over. Chaos reigned. Pack Men is the fictional story of three pals and one child trapped inside this powderkeg. In a city rocking with beer, brotherhood and sectarianism, the boys struggle to hold onto their friendship, as they turn on each other and the police turn on them. And somehow one of them has to disclose a secret which he knows the others won't want to hear...With this novel, one of Scotland's leading young writers has created a scuffed comedy about male un-bonding and Britain unravelling.

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Review

Perhaps an unusual book for a Celtic fan to read, given the story centres around Rangers’ appearance in the 2008 UEFA Cup final. Yet, that perhaps makes it all the more interesting – finding out how the ‘other side’ think and act – and as a football fan it’s a fascinating book. Alan Bissett’s novel is a brilliant study of the football ‘tribe’, in this case, the Rangers support. It tackles issues of culture, sectarianism and identity, and the conflicts that can arise when someone tries to break away from accepted conformity. Like all good football novels, and we’ve already established that there aren’t too many, Pack Men, which is a sequel to Bissett’s first novel, Boyracers, realises that it’s less about the game and more about the characters. - Paul Cuddihy