After spending 6 months researching in Glasgow, Pedro Lenz releases his debut Swiss-German novel Der Goalie bin Ig. What’s special about this book? It is written entirely in the vernacular Swiss-German ‘Mundart’. What’s even more special is that Donal McLaughlin has painstakingly translated the work into a thick, west –Scottish dialect and released the novel under the title Naw Much of A Talker.
Although this novel is set in Switzerland , Lenz’s residency and knowledge of Glasgow has proved successful and, with the addition of our Scots narrator, the scene is interchangeable; our protagonist’s story is as relevant and authentic in Glasgow as in Switzerland, or as it would be in any city anywhere in the world. Nothing is lost in translation.
Meet Goalie: “Conspicuously verbally aggressive. Also unable to deal with conflict. Plus, a clear tendency to supress problems. Physically inconspicuous.” Put simply, Goalie is all bark and no bite. Here is a man who definitely has the talk. Renouncing his guilt after a year long prison sentence for undisclosed crimes , Goalie begins where he left off: back in the same bar in the same town, borrowing £50 from an indifferent ‘friend’. He is home. But, something is not quite right. As Goalie pulls us through the narrative of his life (the bits that haven’t been scratched out through drug abuse) and tries to unwind the secrets that surround his arrest and incarceration, he begins to realise his loyalties to his friends are somewhat misguided and that sometimes, actions really do speak louder than words.
Naw Much of A Talker is depressingly poignant; Goalie lives his life through faded sentiments, anecdotes, philosophies and lies but refuses to believe in his bad decisions. As the story unfolds, it appears that everything has changed but Goalie. His best friend, Uli, makes reference throughout the text to The Road to Damascus but there is no defining or pivotal moment in Goalie’s life. His stories continue to disguise the reality of his emotional attachments and the situations he encounters, but we, as readers, already know everything we need to know about him. There is an inevitability and futility that screams Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late, as we stand witness to the one story that Goalie knows nothing about; his own life.
His brief ‘relationship’ with downtrodden Regula is used as a springboard for the readers’ frustrations. Goalie takes her on holiday and we are finally certain that this is the fated moment where he will change for good but, instead, Goalie stays true to form. A few hours after she arrives, Regula finds him getting drunk, in a bar, alone. He tells her his defining moment; the story of how he got his name. It then becomes clear that very little has changed between then and now, although over two decades have passed.
Regula tells him he needs to be more economical with his stories because, after all, what will happen when all the stories run out? She is a shining beacon of everything that Goalie needs who, too perfectly, has fallen into Gohislifebut, in the end, Goalie can only do (most annoyingly) what he knows how to do, and that is talk. He is unmotivated, illogical and unwilling to live outside of his fantasies. When he finally reaches a time for action, it is far too late.