In this exquisite, haunting book, John Burnside describes his coming of age from the industrial misery of Cowdenbeath and Corby to the new world of Cambridge.
This is a memoir of romance - of lost love and the love of being lost - darkened by threat, illuminated by glamour. The old Scots word `glamour' means magical charm, and the first time he was played I Put a Spell on You, John Burnside thought he had never heard a more beautiful song - it was an enchantment, a fascination that would turn to obsession.
Implicit in the song were all the ambiguities that intrigued him - love, possession and danger - and this book is an exploration of the darker side of glamour and attraction.
Beginning with memories of a brutal murder, the book follows the author through a series of uncanny encounters with `lost girls', with brilliant digressions on murder ballads, voodoo, acid and insomnia, and a cast that includes Kafka and Narcissus, Diane Arbus and Mel Lyman, The Four Tops and Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and time spent lost in the Arctic Circle, black-and-white films and a mental institution.
Ending with the tender summoning of the ghost of his dying mother as she sings along to the radio in her empty kitchen, I Put a Spell on You is a book about memory, about the other side of love: a book of secrets and wonders.