Catriona Child’s 2012 debut novel, Trackman, married music and literature in a manner few other writers have managed, beautifully capturing the sentiment that music, while always a powerful and positive thing throughout most people’s lives, can sometimes mean so much more than simply a soundtrack. It can mean almost everything. Child’s latest novel, Fade Into You, could be seen as a companion piece, as the importance of music is once again at its core. It’s set firmly in the 1990s, where music lover Alex (who is drawn especially, but not exclusively, to grunge) makes strong bonds of friendship with neighbourhood twins Gavin and Banny. As their lives ebb and flow those bonds are tested – often to breaking point – but music, whether on a mixtape, a live gig, or a festival, reminds them of what brought them together in the first place.
While you don’t need to have been there, or know these songs, to enjoy the novel, there is undeniably a particular pleasure in taking a stereophonic step back in time for those who were there. The title is taken from Mazzy Starr’s ‘Fade Into You’, and there are references to The Wannadies, Pale Saints, The Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr. and many more. But while the references are spot on, this is no mere exercise in nostalgia. It’s a moving, insightful and thoughtful read which touches upon subjects such as mental health, grief, and that move from the keenly felt teenage years into what inevitably becomes wearier, and often more cynical, adulthood. Although Child is too good a writer to paint anything as black and white; she knows it’s in the grey areas where the real stories are told. Fade Into You will take you back to your own teenage years, no matter when they were, and remind you of the good and bad times growing up and the songs that saved you.
Fade Into You is available now, published by Luath Press