Wednesday 13 March 2013

Hawthorn and Child

Keith Ridgway, 2012
(February 2013)

Well, this is very odd. It’s very good, but very odd. I think.

I think it’s good, that is. It’s definitely odd. It’s pretty definitely good, as well. Maybe.

No. It is good. Err…

Right. Focus. Hawthorn and Child are policemen and this is a very loose and flaky interpretation of the buddy-cop genre, among many other things, and only in as much as there’s a pair of cops in what pass for the central roles. But there are no ‘central roles,’ Child doesn’t feature all that much, and Hawthorne is a gay detective who enjoys orgies, gets sexually aroused by riot control, and can’t stop crying. And then it gets really weird.

Another fractured narrative. Seem to be going through something of a run of them as of late. Set in and around North London and N5, an area I know only too well, and very effectively evoked. The upwardly mobile and the scuzzy mixing intimately in the same neighbourhoods, streets, and individuals. Promise and resignation cheek by jowl. Lovely slightly staccato tempo and fair amount of good, cold, hard jokes. I have not got the faintest fucking idea what it’s all about.

Um, OK. Example – One scene involves a literary editor cum possibly delusional serial killer. He receives a manuscript about talking wolves and, prompted by this, finds himself hiding outside a garage eavesdropping on the men inside. He believes them to have underworld connections and so undergoes a sort of mortal and existential panic when he realizes he needs to have a shit right now. He then takes measures to prevent it. It’s exactly as bizarre as it sounds and about fifty times as funny.

Ah. Well. Yes. Let’s try some properly half-baked literary analysis/criticism/waffle-stuff. To say that this is ‘a fractured narrative’ is to stretch the indefinite article to breaking point, and it’s done nothing to deserve that. I guess this book is another set of interlinked short-stories, and you can certainly take it that way, but isn’t quite what I’m looking for as a description. There’s definitely not a single narrative, and it’s definitely not a single story, but there aren’t really many stories, either. At least not entire stories. Fragments of stories, as I said: passages, episodes, cut-scenes. That they don’t feel truncated or arbitrarily abandoned is an undeniable mark of considerable authorial talent; they all leave off at a point that feels right and appropriate, but also feels very far short of where you might have hoped it would go. They are whole but not complete, if that makes any sense. A narrative about narrative, then, but this time about the impossibility of any story accurately conveying the messy and unresolved business of living a real life. Perhaps.

I liked this. I like these, but I’m really not all that sure why. What else can I say? It moved me.


  1. I'm sorry...I can't get over the that the real cover?

    Serial Killerish...talks to wolves...I'm diggin' it but the happened there?

    "You guys got 2 minutes to make a cover"

    1. It actually fits the book as a whole really well. Lots of fairly random elements thrown at each other and loosely held together by the police theme.

      That said, this kept popping up on my 'customers also bought...' feed for months and I ignored it because, yeah, wtf happened there?

      Good way to represent what's in the book. Bad, bad way to get people to buy the book.

  2. I think my favorite thing is reading things that I would have never ever thought of writing. Ever. So this is definitely going on my TBR list. If you like the fragments of stories thing, you might like The Planets by Sergio Chefjecs, which I just read and wrote about on my blog. That sounds like a fucking awful plug, but I genuinely just think you would like the book maybe haha

    1. I dunno. I've seen worse plugs. Probably committed a fair few myself, tbh ;)

      The fragmentary thing is something I've got to be in the mood for. Sometimes it can take me by surprise though, as here. Not all the time though, too much can leave you wanting something a touch more straightforward.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, btw.