Wild Life by Liam Brown
|Wild Life by Liam Brown|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Bleak, violent and dramatic in a way that means it must be Liam Brown. Vagrant utopia becomes the opposite in this can't-look-away fable.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: June 2016|
|Publisher: Legend Press|
Adam Britman goes from a man with it all to homeless in the sniff of a line. While looking for somewhere to sleep Adam comes across an alternative community in the local park. They've come together and created structure (including an unofficial allotment) out of the disorder that's normally equated with living on the streets. It seems perfect so Adam joins them, but perfection can sometimes be an illusion. As for walking away… that's not going to be easy.
British author Liam Brown's debut Real Monsters was uncompromising, violent, shocking and excellent. Now this, his second offering, is similarly lacking cheer but that doesn't get in the way of a great story.
Adam is well written, remaining likeable and keeping us on side despite his initial deviousness and his unintentional downward spiral creating lies and hurt to innocents along the way. Although his path is more extreme, it also connects our empathy by flowing into the idea that many of us are a limited number of missed paydays from ruin.
Thinking about it, the best way to describe Wild Life is a sort of Lord of the Flies with adults. As Adam loses his luxury lifestyle, career and family due to addictions, he may find himself in a park rather than an island but the allegorical meaning goes along the same lines.
The park is a potted society with a leadership structure and set of rules. However this is no Garden of Eden. Although it may seem that way with a daily routine of yoga, exercise and regular meals by virtue of the summer-full veg patch, no one can see winter coming. Yet it does.
Liam also successfully plays with the fable genre, wrapping it around a tale that would otherwise have credibility issues. If there's an illegal allotment and a ragged tented village in a park, there'd generally be discovery and local outcry. However in a novel asking us to draw parallels with the world around us metaphorically, that plot problem goes away.
Liam's language is authentic – blunt and matching the adult scenarios it accompanies. As Adam' world darkens, that aspect escalates matching the increased foreboding. We can even see some things coming before Adam does, making it sickening to the point of reading through our fingers. Indeed there were moments when I had to walk away but I always came back. Liam ensures that we don't want to stop reading; we feel we need to see Adam through. (No spoilers, but if it helps at all, Liam isn't heartless.)
What's next from the pen of Mr B? I don't know but I'm betting it will be very good. I'm also betting there's a lack of happy people… I'm willing to be proven wrong on that point though!
(Thank you Legend for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you haven't caught up with it yet, we recommend Liam's Real Monsters. If you'd like something less violent but just as affecting that incorporates a vagrant, do please try Ten Things I've Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler. If you prefer to keep to a hard hitting novel, we also heartily recommend Caribou Island by David Vann.
You can read more book reviews or buy Wild Life by Liam Brown at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Wild Life by Liam Brown at Amazon.com.
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