The Stornoway Way

By: Brittany McCallum

The Stornoway Way review

The Stornoway Way was written by award winning author, Kevin MacNeil. The novel both entertains and disturbs its audience. It is written from the point of view of an alcoholic with a hidden artistic talent. It is a story of an artist who grew up in Stornoway then moves off the island at the first chance he gets. He eventually returns to the island, and feels something is missing. He drinks heavily to escape from his troubled life.

The novel takes place on an island off Scotland. Drinking is one of the main actives on the island. In fact the protagonist says, “If you don’t know what whisky is, then never, I mean fucking never try to bring me round to your way of thinking”. This shows how important drinking is to people in Scotland. Though drinking seems to be a priority for all Scottish people, drinking has more meaningfor the main character. He is dealing with deep issues and drinking his way to escape them.

The opening line in the novel explains how he feels inside. He struggles with determining his self worth. He wants to be a successful artist, but cannot get discovered. Lewis states, “Me, I’m a dreamer by profession (art, music), selling my autograph on a fortnightly basis to the dole office. They have no fucking idea what it’s worth”. He feels like he is more important than he is acknowledge for.

The main character travels from country to country trying to escape an intoxicated sensation of death. “Everywhere from Stornoway to Edinburgh to Paris to Toronto to New York to Reykjavik to Moscow to Prague to Stockholm to Amsterdam to Budapest and so on and so forth, I experienced a phenomenon that only you, maybe, will understand, for it isn’t really sensible and it speaks of death, perhaps magnetically”.

The Stornoway Way is a very dark humorous book. If you look closely you will find bottle of liquor throughout the book. The image on the cover of the novel looks like a bottle of liquor and in the center of the cover is a picture of a man drowning in the sea holding a bottle of whiskey. Above the title of each chapter in the book is a small bottle of liquor. The reoccurring image of liquor reinforces the magnitude of alcohol and alcoholism. Alcohol is a main theme to the novel and readers are reminded through the issues the main character deals with and pictures in the book and on the cover.


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