I’ve been racing through small books, so sorry for all the posts in a row and hope you’ve been coping wiht them – something for everyone, maybe, and reviews of short books are usually shorter than reviews of long books, at least, right? This one was from Kaggsy of The Ramblings, sent in a parcel with another book and I recorded its arrival in my March State of the TBR post. The other book came from Ali to her and this is to go from me to Ali (glad I checked the note!) so will pass it to her next time I see her.

I’ve previously enjoyed Hill’s other books, “Books” and “The Space Between Things” (read pre-blog, the only mention of it on the blog from when I bought my best friend a copy) but this was the first actual work of non-fiction/memoir by him I’d read.

Charlie Hill – “I Don’t Want to go to the Taj Mahal”

(26 February 2021 – from Kaggsy)

I’ve always liked the idea that writing is an activity that is intimately connected to death. That we wrete against death, to delay it somehow, or lessen the power of its hold over us. I’m not sure how effective it is, mind. (p. 98)

This is the story of Charlie Hill’s life in vignettes, never more than a few pages in length, sometimes a paragraph, often funny, sometimes haunting, and all soaked in South Birmingham, in Moseley and Kings Heath and Stirchley, in places I know or remember or have heard of, back when the Trafalgar was a scary pub to go in, so it was almost a visceral experience, reading about his wanderings and wondering where I was at the same time. It’s also soaked in an alternative, rave culture, made poignant at the end when he talks about the survivors from those years he still sees around – something that chimes with the next book I read, interestingly.

So he goes through a succession of crappy jobs, sleeps with a succession (or a spiral, as there are exes we go back to) of women, lives in a succession of dodgy houses with odd housemates and generally lives on the edge of things; however, ‘normal’ life does claim him to an extent in the end, and he does settle.

Here he is, crashing a forklift he shouldn’t have been driving: this gives a flavour of the flat narration and wry amusement of the book.

The only thing that stopped the forklift from going over on its side, with me underneath, cryshed honest into concrete, was a metal post that bent to 4 degrees and left it balancing on the edge of the ramp like a metaphor, not that I had much time for metaphor at Harrison Drape. (p. 19)

This book is published by Repeater Books, who appear to be an indie publisher or small radical imprint – they have some very interesting-looking books if you have a peek at their website.

This was TBR Challenge 2021-22 Book 12/85 – 73 to go – and it was Book 6 in my Novellas in November challenge and part of Nonfiction November!