True Brit Grit.
Rite of passage tale and a crime fiction story rolled into one. It’s also a novel about characters and what characters dear God.
After some peer pressure from various quadrants, I’ve finally read “Abide With Me” by Ian Ayris.
I’m glad I did. It usually takes some time for me to tackle a new voice in the book firmament, and in these case, what a voice!! It has a density that is very unusual for a first book. The level of emotional reaction I was experiencing while reading it meant that I needed to catch my breath every once in a while. It’s that powerful. It’s a first person narrative, told in London’s East End vernacular of the 70s and 80s. The voice is haunting and has the power and authenticity. What elevates this book above the pack, apart from the writing, is the Brit factor. We can fully sense the darkness behind drawn curtains, and the rapport Ayris generates from this view lifts this book above its contemporaries. When I first picked it up, I was expecting a more crime based novel. However it was so much more.
And the ending, the ending, the ending, … What can I say without giving anything away?? The ending Ayris builds for the two protagonists (John and Kenny) is one so powerful, poignant, and heartbreaking it actually made me stop reading it for a moment. I just had to stop. I couldn’t go on.
As for the swearing, I’m all for authenticity. I couldn’t care less about the rest.
One of my first picks for the Best of the Best 2013.
NB: Not only for West Ham United fans…