The Excerpt Reader occasionally snoops outside its haughty literary realm of high-and-fine literature and lends a hand to a fellow Twitter or Facebook buddy in need of a break, usually in the form of a quick book excerpt review (for what else does the Excerpt Reader know to do?!)
Thus it was with Derek Haines' Milo Moon; & so it shall be with
Hailed as a "Trainspotting for the Viagra generation" (not sure what it means except for the illusion to drugs, Irvine Welsh and foul mouthed Scots),
The novel's first chapter is basically a long (too-long) description of Jade's endeavors as a drug-addict/prostitute on a typical 'night out/in", and it starts thus:
* You can read the first chapter in its entirety here.
As an Excerpt Reader (well, as any reader for that matter), I have a general problem with novels starting out in this manner.
Readers should not be bored to death with long and repetitive Balzacian descriptive passages right smack in the beginning of a novel, where the voice of the narrator (or is it the writer?) is heard over too loudly, mopping away all hope of a genuine character, with stereotyped and cliched protagonists.
This goes on to even worser places; the tedious narrative tone hastily makes way to a gruesome description of Jade's affliction:
"Jade lifted her left leg up, bringing her knee to her chin. Her left leg was the better of the two. Although she only had three of her five toes on her left foot, at least she had a left foot. Her right one had been amputated after the gangrene had set in. Then she lost the bottom of her right leg below the knee. She had tried injecting into the stump, but it didn’t work.
The veins on her arms were well and truly out of bounds. Constant abuse had taken its toll, leaving Jade to resort to her legs to get the desired kick. She took off her faux-leather boot and tapped away at one of the three remaining toes.
Truth of the matter was there was no right foot and most of her right leg was missing. Her prosthetic one was hidden by the thigh high boots she wore every time she went out on the block. Most of the time she got away with it. No one really noticed that she was an amputee when she was sucking them off and calling them “daddy”."
O.K. You might justly point out that this is the serious topic of drug addiction we're dealing with here, and that these types of afflictions ought to be discussed in length, and I'd totally agree with you in most cases..
Exposing the potential reader to the perils of drug addiction (even today; even after The Basketball Diaries, Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream, for that matter) is important.
However, I seem to lack any sympathy or what-have-you from Kennedy, and this lack of 'engagement' makes the narration in Carpet King very dry and pale.
All this is not to say that Carpet King displays bad writing.
The topic discussed, as well as the way its presented are interesting enough to make you want to flip the old page and turn over to read the next, but the techniques employed by Kennedy to make your reading 'enjoyable' (as reading Welsh's Trainspotting is, for that matter, quite enjoyable) are not advanced enough.
The reader is hence 'stuck' with a dragging story which seems to prance back and forward (in time, as well as in themes) between one stream-of-thought to the other.
The second chapter leaves poor old Jade and jumps right off to tell the tale of Dirk McVee, the Carpet King of Texas.
I've had enough at this stage, sorry..
If you feel like reading some more you're welcome to it right here
VERDICT: DON'T BUY (unless you're a drug addict, from Liverpool or just plain bored)