Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: "English Slacker," by Chris Morton

I first read this book in draft on the Great Writing forum. It was something out of the ordinary run of amateur writing, and although at first I found it a difficult read, every time I saw a new chapter posted, I had to go and read it. And for a woman of my age to read the first-person narrative of an 18 year old youth, and then go on reading it, it must have something. I'm just not sure what.

Chambers, the narrator, has just finished college in his home town of Bracksea. The tale wanders apparently aimlessly, somewhat like Chambers' own life, through events both past and present over the ensuing summer. Although cannabis, tobacco and alcohol feature very largely in the story, Chambers is an oddly endearing lad, without much ambition or devilment in his makeup. It's laid-back and chatty and colloquial, and it's also very small-town England. There's only routine swearing, no rampant sex and almost no violence. There isn't even, apparently, much of a story. And yet...

This is really an exploration of the as-yet-undefined brain of adolescence still going along with a me-and-my-mates approach to life. Chambers, recalling his formerly joined-at-the hip friend Colin, puzzles over what is reality and what isn't - especially when his reality is constantly distorted by artificial "enhancers."

I won't spoil "English Slacker" for you by revealing what the crisis turns out to be... or how it does turn out to have a narrative after all.
ENGLISH SLACKER is written by Chris Morton, and published in softback by Punked Books. 188 pp, UK £7.99, US $15.99. ISBN 978-095331728-8