Toy Fights: Poet paints a precise and occasionally sweet picture of a poor Dundee childhood

Former professor of poetry Don Paterson’s book is full of anger about growing up in a Dundee housing estate, but his lightness of tone keeps the book from straying into ‘misery memoir’ territory

Don Paterson: the poet, writer and musician has written an irreverent, richly observed and often angry memoir about growing up on a council estate in Dundee. Picture: Getty

In his late teens, Don Paterson had a breakdown and spent four months on a psychiatric ward. He had been smoking marijuana every day, from when he woke up until he went to bed. After quitting school at 16, he had also just been fired from his first job.

Frequently assaulted by panic attacks, Paterson started hearing competing voices in his head and believed his parents were trying to poison him. The onset of his ...