Andrew O'Hagan: Heydays in the Haçienda (2020 Event)

‘Life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last.’ The post-punk protagonists of Andrew O’Hagan’s Mayflies would probably describe the lyrics of Prince’s hit pop song 1999 as ‘Yankee pish,’ but O’Hagan’s novel catches exactly the mood of the song. The ephemeral nature of life, burning brightly and then so soon extinguished, lies at the heart of this soulful story of two lads from small-town Scotland.

Tully and James are growing up in Irvine, steeped in the music of the Fire Engines, the Fall and the poetry of John Cooper Clarke. Together they rush towards the climax of their youth in an unforgettable, friendship-defining weekend in Manchester. Thirty years later, Tully calls his old pal with some troubling news.

The fine grain of working-class teenagers’s lives; the blether, the binge-drinking and nights on the pull: Mayflies sees Andrew O’Hagan in scintillating, heartbreakingly good form. He talks with fellow Scottish writer, columnist and doyen of the literary salon, Damian Barr in this event recorded live at the 2020 Book Festival.

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