If I can say one thing about Looking for the Possible Dance, that it is definitely not a summer read. It’s bleak, sad with one uplifting moment. However if you put this aside and let the novel take over you then you’ll find that it is a marvellous piece of writing.
Margaret is on a train from Scotland to London and she spends the rest of the novel (with some very brief chapters on the present) gathering all the events which brought her on this train. The main culprit – if I can say that – lies within relationships.
At first she dissects the relationship with her father, then to her boyfriend Colin and then her boss Mr. Lawrence and all of them end in some type of failure. Her father dies , Colin leaves her cause Margaret doesn’t want to devote herself fully to him and Mr. Lawrence fires her due to some frame up and his neuroticisms. As the novel progresses Colin puts Margaret in an ethical dilemma, which could be seen as a sly nod to politics. By the end of the novel Margaret receives the redemption she has been seeking and this is the only uplifting section of the whole book.
This is my first A.L. Kennedy and I’ve noticed that the writing style is not dissimilar to Patrick McCabe. Both have that storytelling air and both fuse in politics while doing this. Kennedy is more realistic and in a funny way more human in her portrayal of characters.
If I can say this I notice that Scottish writers have a tendency to depict reality in a harsh way – James Kelman, Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner, Alasdair Gray (well two parts of Lanark anyways) and so on. So I guess it would be safe to say that Looking for .. is a Scottish novel through and through.