Excerpt from Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Young Mungo

by Douglas Stuart

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart X
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2022, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Grace Graham-Taylor
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt
Young Mungo

As they neared the corner, Mungo halted and shrugged the man's hand from his shoulder. It was such an assertive gesture that it took everyone by surprise. Turning back, Mungo squinted up at the tenement flat, and his eyes began to twitch with one of their nervous spasms. As his mother watched him through the ear-of-wheat pattern of the net curtains, she tried to convince herself that his twitch was a happy wink, a lovely Morse code that telegraphed everything would be okay. F. I. N. E. Her youngest son was like that. He smiled when he didn't want to. He would do anything just to make other people feel better.

Mo-Maw swept the curtain aside and leant on the window frame like a woman looking for company. She raised her tea mug in one hand and tapped the glass with her pearlescent pink nails. It was a colour she had chosen to make her fingers appear fresher, because if her hands looked younger, then so might her face, so might her entire self. As she looked down upon him, Mungo shifted again, his feet turning towards home. She fluttered her painted fingers and shooed him away. Go!

Her boy was stooped slightly, the rucksack a little hump on his back. Unsure of what he should take, he had packed it with half-hearted nonsense: an oversized Fair Isle jumper, teabags, his dog-eared sketch-book, a game of Ludo, and some half-used tubes of medicated ointment. Yet he wavered on the corner as though the bag might tip him backwards into the gutter. Mo-Maw knew the bag was not heavy. She knew it was the bones of him that had become a dead weight.

This was all for his own good and yet he dared stare up at her with a doleful look. It was too hot for his nonsense. He was fraying her nerves. Go! she mouthed again and took a swally of the cold tea.

The two men idled at the bend. They shared a sigh and a glance and a chuckle, before putting down their bags and lighting cigarettes. Mo-Maw could tell they were itchy to be gone – these narrow streets didn't like unknown faces – and she could see it took patience not to goad her boy on. The men were canny enough not to pressure Mungo, not so close to home, not when he could still bolt. Their slitted eyes kept flicking towards him, watching, waiting to see what the boy would do next, while their hands ferreted inside their trouser pockets as they peeled their ball sacks from their thighs. The day would be muggy and close. The younger man fiddled with himself. Mo-Maw licked the back of her bottom teeth.

Mungo raised his hand to wave up at the window but Mo-Maw glowered down at him. He must have seen her face harden, or perhaps he thought waving was childish, because he aborted the gesture and grasped a fistful of air, which made him seem like a drowning man.

In his baggy shorts and his oversized cagoule, he looked like a waif dressed in hand-me-downs. But as he pushed the cloud of curls away from his face, Mo-Maw saw his jaw tighten, and she was reminded of the determined young man that he was becoming. She tapped the glass again. Don't you scowl at me.

The younger of the two men stepped forward and laid his arm across Mungo's shoulders. Mungo winced at the weight. Mo-Maw saw him rub at his sides, and she was reminded of the tender purple bruises that were blooming across his ribs. She tapped the glass, Oh fur God's sake, jist go! At this, her son lowered his gaze and let himself be led away. The men were laughing as they clapped her boy on the back. Guid lad. Brave lad.

Mo-Maw was not a religious woman but she stretched her pink fingernails to the heavens and wiggled them as she cried hallelujah. She tipped her tea into the parched spider plant, and filling her mug with fortified wine, she turned up the music and kicked off her shoes.



The three travellers caught a corporation bus into Sauchiehall Street. Glasgow was in a rare swelter and they had to push upstream through rowdy gangs of shirtless men already poached pink from the sun. City benches were lined with thick-armed grannies, proper in their hats and good wool coats, and sweating heavily across their top lips. As sticky- faced weans skipped across the street the women pulled their heads into their fleshy chests and dozed in the heat. They reminded Mungo of the tenement pigeons, big lazy doos with their eyes half-closed and their heads swallowed by neck feathers.

Excerpted from Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart. Copyright © 2022 by Douglas Stuart. Excerpted by permission of Grove Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Trust
    Trust
    by Hernan Diaz
    Hernan Diaz's Trust is a work of fiction that is itself comprised of four very different works ...
  • Book Jacket: Let's Not Do That Again
    Let's Not Do That Again
    by Grant Ginder
    We have all dealt with inescapable, insufferable family members at some point, and the ones who say ...
  • Book Jacket: Atomic Anna
    Atomic Anna
    by Rachel Barenbaum
    If you had the opportunity to prevent one of the world's most horrific disasters, would you? What if...
  • Book Jacket: The Colony
    The Colony
    by Audrey Magee
    The Colony opens with Mr Lloyd, a London artist, being transported to a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Shadows of Berlin
by David R. Gillham
A captivating novel of a Berlin girl on the run from the guilt of her past and the boy from Brooklyn who loves her.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Metropolis
    by B. A. Shapiro

    "An ingeniously plotted hybrid social/suspense novel. Shapiro hits it out of the park."
    —Shelf Awareness

  • Book Jacket

    The Immortal King Rao
    by Vauhini Vara

    A resonant debut novel obliterating the boundaries between literary and speculative fiction, the historic and the dystopian.

Who Said...

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T S's T Limit

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.