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M. GILLILAND
The Free


click to enlarge

Hooligan, London, 1986
price: 1.80 (free to shoplifters); 142 pages


The blurb on the back:

'This most astonishing new book is one of the most enjoyable reads that I have experienced for a long time. I feel sure that this up and coming author is a strong contender for the Booker Prize if not canonisation.' - Graham Greene
'This is a book bursting with zest and vitality. I heartily recommend it.' - John Le Carre
'An absolute beginner he may be, an absolute certainty he is. I urge you to buy it!' - Colin MacInnes


opening lines:
I should have known what he was up to all right but I hadn't a clue. It was easy enough to see what he fancied in her, that Janice was a real beauty. Besides being a stuck up bitch.


First things first: the atmosphere of this book is fantastic. Those quotes on the back, the 'free to shoplifters' price tag, the publishing information '©1986 (except to anarchists)' - it's all great.

And the story ain't a bad idea: a clash between a self-organized working class (within a loose syndicalist union) defending a CoOp against the armies of the Establishment, with a style that aims more for the apocalyptic feel of Mad Max than the considered precision of Orwell or even the documentary tone of The Angry Brigade. Unfortunately, judged as a piece of writing rather than as political soapboxing, it leaves the mustard very definitely uncut.

If the British film industry had any balls, it'd be optioning this book.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 1/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
4/5


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