John Byrne's The Slab Boys: Technicolored Hellhole in a Town Called Malice
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Presents a detailed discussion and appreciation of the Slab Boys tetralogy, a sequence of four plays by the Scottish playwright and painter John Byrne, beginning with The Slab Boys (1978), focused on a group of apprentices in the color-mixing room of a Paisley carpet-factory in the 1950s, and then tracing the divergence of their lives through three later plays, The Loveliest Night of the Year (1979, later titled Cuttin' A Rug), Still Life (1982), and Nova Scotia (2008); examines Byrne's characterization, "excoriatingly destructive wit," and "rambunctiously demotic language"; analyzes the tetralogy's continuing major themes of the relation between art and life, high art and popular culture; and concludes that these are plays of "striking intellectual breadth" and "superb verbal inventiveness," combining "international with distinctively Scottish themes," and "producing a fusion of realism and fantasy probably unmatched in Scotland since the heyday of Hugh MacDiarmid."
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities. Literature Section; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Studies in Scottish Literature
University of South Carolina Press
Donaldson, William (2015) "John Byrne's The Slab Boys: Technicolored Hell-hole in a Town Called Malice," Studies in Scottish Literature: Vol. 41: Iss. 1, 221–236.
Final published version