A year or so ago I read an article in The Guardian about a promising young author named Gwendoline Riley. The brief description of her and her writing resonated with me, and I decided to investigate in the hope that I might be inspired or pick up some tips.
Since Sick Notes was the only one of her novels in my local library, that was the one I read, thoroughly and critically. I could see a superficial similarity of approach in Sick Notes and in my own first novel (unpublished, naturally), but I couldn’t find any common ground with the characters and I found I didn’t really care what happened to them. Not any criticism of Riley’s writing, just a comment on the different aspects of (for want of a better phrase) youth culture we’d used as settings; hers was an alien world to me, as is Raymond Chandler’s LA, but unlike Chandler, Riley didn’t present me with any enticing surroundings that I wanted to set up camp in.
For what it’s worth, and in case anyone else feels like comparing my first novel with any of Gwendoline Riley’s, I’ll put the first chapter here, probably serialising the rest of it later as I get round to it (a free novel – don’t all clamour at once). It’s about the same length as Sick Notes, as it happens, and I wrote it when I had too much time on my hands, back in the Winter/Spring of 2000/1. Thus far, only about half a dozen friends have read it, and very likely that’s the way it will stay (who has the time to read these days?). My style’s changed over the last seven or eight years, and I like to think I’ve improved with time and effort, but maybe I’m just deluding myself.
Ladies and gentlemen, Resurrection Joe, chapter 1…