“HWFG” is a term of phrase that us Scots are all too familiar with. Probably as recognisable as our national anthem, it could even perhaps be pushed as far to say it defines us as a nation – we are renowned for it. So, what better a name than “HWFG” could Chris McQueer use to title his second book?
McQueer held his second book launch in ‘Alan’s Shed’ in Stereo. The much anticipated follow-up to his debut short story collection, Hings, was a sold-out event, only proving McQueer’s ever-growing popularity.
Hosted by comedian Anna Devitt (who, by the way, brilliantly made her success by making her stomach talk on Britain’s Got Talent), the event saw every single attendee cackling from start to finish. From McQueer reading the audience a story about asking your barber for an ‘Ian-Brady-esque’ haircut, to slam poetry about vaginas, hearing about Sammy’s escapades in his crime scene cleaner career, and even some heartfelt songs – the night was triumphant. McQueer’s stories are written in his own Glaswegian lingo, and I reckon that, besides his obvious talent for writing, is why both novels are such roaring successes. I often find that many writers are scared to write in Scots, despite speaking in it themselves. For me, this is what makes McQueer a true rarity. Finding writers that will swear, use their own lingo and say things that we all know and think, but just don’t have the guts to say out loud – are few and far between.
His writing may be a bit recherche for the average reader, but this is what makes McQueer’s writing all that bit better. It’s a great feeling knowing that as Scots, we are somewhat in on the joke with McQueer’s writing, and we can all identify the characters in his stories to people we know in everyday life.
When I caught up with McQueer, he told me, “It was the absolute night of my life. Getting to launch my second book in front of my family, pals and supporters was an amazing feeling. I can’t thank everyone enough who came along.”
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that McQueer may well be the next best thing in Scottish literature. He’s certainly not a one-hit wonder and I wouldn’t expect him to slow down any time soon.
By Emma Malcolmson
Photos by Jessica Newell, courtesy of 404Ink.