Wednesday 17 January 2018
PAUL HEATLEY - THE BOY (2015)
WARNING - CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE, SEXUAL CONTENT, AND SCENES OF VIOLENCE. SHOULD NOT BE READ BY ANYONE.
Trapped on the trailer park where his mother abandoned him to his father's care, Jake learned early that life is not always what you want it to be. He searches for distractions from the mundane - with his skateboard, with his friends, and through the window of a girl from school.
But one night changes everything, and sets Jake on an irrevocable path towards becoming a man, aided by some familiar faces.
Though a standalone story, The Boy is the third in a very loose trilogy beginning in The Motel Whore and continued in The Vampire, and concludes an interlocked series of tales about a town filled with losers, loners, misfits and outcasts, with a unique coming of age story.
It will crawl inside your skull, it will live beneath your skin. It will stay with you for days.
The first read of the year and a cracking start to 2018.
It's not quite as grim and joyless as the first two in the trilogy. Jake, our protagonist enjoys some friendship, kindness and care during our time spent in his company on a trailer park. He has a couple of skateboarding friend's his own age. He has a father who cares about him, albeit in a somewhat haphazard way - both of them damaged by the walkout of a wife and mother. His father's girlfriend shows an interest to a small degree. There's the kindness and concern shown towards him from a friend of his father's after a misadventure and with the enabling of one rite of passage on the path to manhood.
There's an obvious flip-side. Jake suffers physical injury and pain following a vicious beating after disregarding some sage advice from his father's friend, and his mental anguish reveals itself through the release of his pent-up anger and rage towards his mother and her new life and family with the fancy car and nice home. There's indifference from his father about a long period of absence from their trailer, contrasted with genuine happiness on his return.
We have a boy longing for manhood and struggling to get there in a largely solitary fashion. Poor choices and an uncertain path may lay ahead.
A great character piece. We cross paths with some old friends from Heatley's The Motel Whore and The Vampire. Overall it's fairly dark, gritty and grim, but interspersed with some fleeting moments when for just a while the world doesn't seem such a crappy place. Not an existence I crave for my own self or any of those I care about, or anyone really.
4.5 from 5
Some of Paul Heatley's work was read and enjoyed in 2017 - The Motel Whore, The Vampire and one of my 2017 best books - FatBoy.
His website is here. Catch him on Facebook here and Twitter - @PaulHeatley3
Read in January, 2018
Published - 2015
Page count - 85
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle
Q+A with Paul last year - here.