Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Got Better, Surely?

Writer Chris Cleave has a new book out, Incendiary. It is an epistolary novel narrated by a working-class woman whose family has been killed by suicide bombers, along with 1,000 others, at a match between Arsenal and Chelsea.

Here are the opening lines:

"Dear Osama they want you dead or alive so the terror will stop. Well I wouldn't know about that I mean rock 'n' roll didn't stop when Elvis died on the khazi it just got worse. Next thing you know there was Sonny & Cher and Dexys Midnight Runners. I'll come to them later. My point is it's easier to start these things than to finish them. I suppose you thought of that did you?

There's a reward of 25 million dollars on your head but don't lose sleep on my account Osama. I have no information leading to your arrest or capture. I have no information full effing stop. I'm what you'd call an infidel and my husband called working-class. There is a difference you know. But just supposing I did clap eyes on you. Supposing I saw you driving a Nissan Primera down towards Shoreditch and grassed you to the old bill. Well. I wouldn't know how to spend 25 million dollars. It's not as if I've got anyone to spend it on since you blew up my husband and my boy.

That's my whole point you see. I don't want 25 million dollars Osama I just want you to give it a rest. AM I ALONE? I want to be the last mother in the world who ever has to write you a letter like this. Who ever has to write to you Osama about her dead boy."

The New Republic gave the book a mixed review, describing it as a cross between Monty Python and Irvine Welsh. One scene sees the narrator puking from her hospital bed on Prince William's shoes, which I suppose reminded me of Mr. Creosote. Otherwise it's difficult to know if the description is a criticism or high praise.

Incendiary was published in the UK on July 7th.

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