See that bit where they were aw’ up dancin’ and singin taw ” One Step Beyond”? Bobby paused. ‘…Or “Do The Hucklebuck”? He could see the look on Joey’s face slowly changing’…Or even the slow dances?’
Joey had to concede that these few moments were actually quite good. He’d felt the power a DJ has over a crowd at those times. He’d sensed the anticipation people had about about what record might come next – and the fleeting feeling of the music building an atmosphere.
Music plays a central part in David F Ross’ debut novel as he takes us back to the 1980s where vinyl was the currency of choice for aspiring DJ’s and MP3’s were still to be invented. Set in Ayrshire on the West coast of Scotland the musical backdrop adds an additional layer to a novel which is at times funny and yet also deeply moving.
Central characters Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller provide the laughs as they embark on a career as aspiring mobile disco DJ’s whilst Bobby’s older brother Gary provides the books darker moments with his dispatches from the Falklands War. Ross blends together both elements of the novel with ease, taking us from laughter to tears on numerous occasions as we follow the boys through a year in their life.
Set in Kilmarnock in 1982 Ross paints a bleak, yet realistic picture of the Scottish town as it suffers the the full effects of Thatcherism. Prospects are limited, unemployment is rising and war is looming. The encroaching war is woven into the book by Ross with his use of official documents and written reports from the time. These add authenticity to the novel whilst at the same time they work on another level to link Bobby and Gary’s story together.
There are many laughs in the book, maybe none more so than a lovers tryst in a garden shed. As the two lovers reach a climax the mobile disco dry ice machine creates an atmospheric finish to the scene, although maybe not in the way either would have wanted!
Nostalgia brims throughout this novel and those of a certain vintage will love the trip down memory lane that reading this novel allows. Ross has written a great coming of age novel that is full of wonderful prose and characters who are instantly likeable. At times the book is reminiscent of Irvine Welsh; Kilmarnock takes the place of Leith and Vinyl, rather than Heroin, is the drug of choice. After reading ‘The Last Days of Disco’ I’m pretty certain you will need another hit of David F. Ross.