Thursday, 24 May 2012

ABIDE WITH ME: an educated comment . . .

Hi all.

Been a little while since there's been a non-Amazon/Goodreads review of AWM, but one popped up yesterday.

The review is from the site of Professor Brian Stoddart.  Professor Stoddart is the first person to review ABIDE WITH ME - so far as I know - that has his own Wikipedia page.  And here it is:

Brian Stoddart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Emeritus professor Brian Stoddart is an Australian academic who was the vice-chancellor of La Trobe University between 2005 and 2006.[1] He is a well-known commentator on sporting matters, being involved in the foundation of the Australian Institute of Sport[2] and being the author of many books exploring the history and importance of sports in society.[3]

Blimey, eh . . .

How Professor Stoddart got hold of a copy of ABIDE WITH ME, I'll never know.  Just one of those serendipitous wotsits, I suppose, the world of writing seems to abound with.  Or just the vagaries of life.  If you want a definitive version of what the vagaries of life are, click here and the greatest band in the world - Half Man Half Biscuit - will tell you.

Right, where were we.  Oh, yeah, the review:

'Ian Ayris is described as having found his way to writing by some knockabout, undistinguished routes and occupations from his Essex origins. Abide With Me (as in the hymn sung at the antihero’s Dad’s funeral) is an astonishing depiction of a harsh life and social dysfunction in the London East End. 

Ayris has the astonishing knack of, and an obviously great ear for being able to effortlessly transfer the East End argot from the streets to the page so that you almost hear rather than read the words. He also conveys the tight social geography of the place, as his character describes going into areas “off his manor” but maybe just a mile or two away. When he is driven home from prison, he reflects that it is the only time he has been the “other side of the river”. In a global world this is an incongruously small patch.

Like Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch and John King’s The Football Factory, football provides a constant theme, in this case a life calibrated by the success or otherwise of West Ham, the “Hammers” or the “Irons” and the club whose history was told wonderfully by my American friend and colleague Charles “ Chuck” Korr.

Ayris tells of a grim life, a relentless grind with a lack of opportunity leading inevitably towards crime (a botched hold-up of a tatty local off-license shop) and a spell “inside” for the main character who sustains terrible physical abuse. An entanglement with a local crime boss has deadly circumstances but, in the end, a rough sort of retribution ensues. It is a terrific if gritty book and several cuts above the rest.'

Click here for Professor Stoddart's reviews of three other crime fiction novels that sound absolutely fantastic.

 And have a great day.


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