Trackman by Catriona Child
Published 29 February 2012
Trackman is a novel told from the perspective of Edinburgh-born Davie Watts. Davie is haunted by the traumatic death of his younger brother Lewey, for which he feels responsible. Following his parents' divorce and his expulsion from university, Davie is alone and purposeless. That is, until a homeless man insists he take his MP3 player.
In Davie's hands the MP3, affectionately nicknamed Jamesy, helps strangers by playing them tracks in their moment of need. The notion of a magical MP3 player may seem ridiculous but Childs skilfully manages to keep the focus on music's ability to improve people's lives. The brief glances at the ordinary troubles of strangers is juxtaposed with the extraordinary music player and its life-affirming effects.
As “Trackman”, Davie relishes his role helping others, but it also brings home how he failed to help his brother. As he becomes increasingly obsessed with Jamesy and the details of Lewey's death are revealed it seems that grief will claim Davie's life as well. This tale of loss and isolation is a powerful piece of contemporary Scottish literature that expertly blends fantastical subject matter with a profound look at the destructive effects of bereavement.