Sunday, 15 March 2009

Book of the week and bibliography - Richard Milward, Ten Storey Love Song

Ten Storey Love Song is a second novel from, Richard Milward, an English writer born in Middlesbrough in 1984. His debut novel Apples was published by Faber and Faber in 2007 to great acclaim. Both Apples and Ten Story Love Song deal with growing up in Middlesborough, against a background of drugs, alcohol and sex and general excess. They are probably not for the easily shocked.

Milward has achieved success as an author early – his first book was written when he was only 19. He was raised and schooled in Guisborough, Cleveland and studied Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London. He cites Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh as the book that made him want to write, and he has been compared to Welsh in terms of the ground he is covering, albeit dealing with a new generation. He has also said that Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan and Hunter S. Thompson are influences.

Love Song is written as a single 286 page paragraph, and opinions have been divided as to whether or not this is helpful. However, previous novels which have taken unusual approaches to punctuation have on occasion done very well – The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (full stops only) springs to mind. Both Apples and Love Song are published in paperback only by Faber & Faber. First editions of the former are surprisingly difficult to find; the latter can be found easily.

“Spanning one dynamite paragraph, "Ten Storey Love Song" follows Bobby the Artist's rise to stardom and horrific drug psychosis, Johnnie's attempts to stop thieving and start pleasing Ellen in bed and Alan Blunt, a forty-year-old truck driver who spends a worrying amount of time patrolling the grounds of the local primary school. Bobby - the so-called 'love child of Keith Haring and Basquiat', cooped up in a Middlesbrough tower block - works on his canvases under the influence of pills-on-toast, acid-on-crackers and Francis Bacon. When Bent Lewis, a famous art dealer and mover-shaker from that London appears, Bobby and friends are sent on a sweaty adventure of self-discovery, hedonism and violence involving a 2.5cm-head curved claw hammer. A love song to a loveless Teesside, "Ten Storey Love Song" is a ferocious slab of concrete prose peppered with beauty and delivered with glorious abandon.”


Apples – Faber and Faber, 2007.
Ten Storey Love Song – Faber and Faber, 2009.

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