End of the line...

End of the line…

“I found the eyeball fifteen minutes before I found the rest of him.”

This is a very difficult review to write. Y’see, I try very hard to not spoil anything about the books I review, avoiding as much as I can of major plot twists and so on, but in this case it’s going to be hard. I want to talk about everything that happens in the second half of the book, but doing so will diminish the thrill you would get from reading it yourself first hand. So really, while this is a review, I can only review half of it and throw in a few vague comments about the rest.

I hope that alone is intriguing enough to make you want to read it, because you really should.

This is the story of Kimberly Clark, a twenty-something from Teeside now living in London (known only as “the Capital” within the book). She has become bored of her life and her kind, caring boyfriend Stevie. Instead of simply breaking up with him, she starts being nasty to him, first in subtle ways and then less so, in a bid to show him that she isn’t as perfect as he claims, and maybe even to get him to break up with her.

But Stevie doesn’t break up with her. He kills himself instead.

With his death on her conscience, Kimberly sets about being a good person and filling her days with entirely altruistic deeds. She helps out the homeless, works hard for her boss, finds it impossible to say no to men who ask her out on a date, and freely doles out money to those who ask, despite having little herself. And then on page 209 everything changes and … I can’t say anything else.

I did find the book a struggle to begin with. I’ve read Richard Milward before and the book, while very smart and full of intelligent lines, both dark and hilarious, it didn’t seem like him or what I knew of him. This is a man who writes books with little attention to grammar and punctuation (Apples) or that don’t use any paragraph breaks (Ten Storey Love Song). Why was he wasting his time on some daft bint with a guilt complex? Concerned that the book was going to be a slog, I flicked ahead and saw what was coming. And it was too intriguing to leave.

Just read this, frankly. That’s about all I can say. It isn’t for the faint hearted as there are some truly, truly graphic and disturbing scenes peppered throughout the book, but Milward does a wonder with mixing the mundane with the macarbe and never once attempts to poeticise the more gruesome aspects of the human condition. Kimberly is an interesting character, but not entirely compelling to begin with, and by the end you can’t help but feel sorry for her, but some of the other characters really shine.

The book also does a great job at describing what makes London so wonderful and disgusting. It’s a backwards love letter to a city that really needs a good night’s sleep and a week or two in rehab. It’s a smart novel, definitely a modern classic of weird fiction and does its best to break all the rules of fiction writing while still maintaining complete believability. The language is wonderfully casual yet verbose and while it’s a fast-paced read, I can’t guarantee you won’t come out feeling at least a little bit sick, violated or like you’ve been hit with a high-speed brick wall.

Just read the damn thing, although maybe not while you’re eating.

For more of my own writing, my debut novel The Atomic Blood-stained Bus is available now to download from all good ebook retailers.

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