Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Books You Should Be Reading Number 50 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

My Booky-Wook by Russell Brand

Down among the have-nots, the drunks and the junkies, fleeting moments of mutual connection happen quite frequently. With Barry, fine brown hair, concave chest, sad, sad eyes, the Queen’s Arms pub; ‘’Ello me old mucker, put one on the pipe for us, I’m brassick.’ With his handler Pats, who looked like Mick Reid crossed with an ox; they did house clearances – taking all the stuff out of old people’s homes after they’d died. Pats told me that the first thing Barry would do was go straight to the medicine cabinet, rifle through all the pill packets and bottles, and neck the lot. It made no difference what they were for – rheumatism, athlete’s foot, piles.
Barry, perpetually upbeat, had never got over the death of his father, who was a boxer. I once went round to the place where he’d lived with his dad. It was quite a big terraced house – and there was hardly any furniture in it. I sat in there with just this electric bar heater for comfort, smoking dope and taking daft prescription drugs.
We’d induced a comfortable silence and I glanced at Barry; orange in the three-bar glow, he just looked lost and sad, like my nan when I recognised that she was ready to die, but he was in his twenties – just a man in an empty house, lit by a bar-fire, on drugs he’d found in a dead man’s cupboard. A beautiful soul who fell through life.


It feels sort of like false advertising to post such an uncharacteristically poignant excerpt from the book (or booky-wook, if you will. I will not...) but I really liked the phraseology. While much of the book is characterised by a sense of sadness, most of it is hideously funny – Brand has a self-acknowledged need to turn his pain into attention-seeking humour, and has done so for this book. It also ranks on my list of books I really shouldn’t have taken to school with me; the students – fascinated by the cover image of Brand, who recently hosted the MTV awards they all watched – all asked to read it, but given that I was up to the part where Brand discusses the idea of using dental floss to strangle his genitals while in rehab for sex-addiction – which happens in the first paragraph of page one and then proceeds to get worse - I decided against it. (Of course, I still had American Psycho on my desk from the other day, but that has a boring cover, so none of them have asked about it yet. I should put that away...)

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