The Sound of My Voice by Ron Butlin

Review published on April 5, 2018.

I want to thank Nudge, Polygon publishers and Ron Butlin for ensuring this book is now being re-printed for hopefully a new raft of readers to explore this ‘genius piece of fiction’, as described by Irvine Welsh.

The author was totally unheard of by me even though this novel was originally published in 1987 yet it was so captivating that I immediately read all of Ron’s other work (including poetry as he was the Scottish Poet Laureate-Makar), and I was when delighted he agreed to do an interview for me which featured in nb magazine.

Morris Magellan is 34 years old, an executive in a biscuit factory (the new cover on the paperback is brilliant!), married with two children. But he’s also an alcoholic.

We’d now say he is a ‘functioning’ alcoholic but we soon discover his ability to carry on normally is quickly unravelling. He’s destructive of not only his own mind and body but of those around him.

I think this is one of the best descriptions of alcoholism in literature that I have ever read. But it’s not depressing as Ron Butlin writes movingly, a stylistic description of brutality but as compulsive (or addictive) as the very illness with which Morris is suffering.

I’m so glad Ron has been able to link with Polygon/Birlinn to get this published again and I obviously am biased as having it as one of my all time favourite novels. (It was in the List’s 100 Best Scottish Books of All Time too!) For wider readers it provides a real insight into alcohol dependency and as a short novel may engage with some book clubs looking to explore human nature.

Philipa Coughlan 5/4

The Sound of My Voice by Ron Butlin
Polygon 9781846974229 pbk Apr 2018


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