Thursday, 11 August 2016

PUSHER VERDICT: Black Cradle by u.v. ray

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

U.v ray must have missed the memo from Oscar Wilde because there is nothing even remotely samey about his writing. 

In fact, Black Cradle, his latest tome is testament to his ability to go his own way. Plough his own furrow. Hoe his own row.

Ray, I can call him that because Facebook says we're friends, is a one-off. Take this quote of his that I've swiped from said social media behemoth:

"I never refer to my books as having a plot. I don't write plots. I always refer to it as the book's meaning. Still plugging away at my current work, The Savage City. Its meaning hasn't revealed itself to me yet. But it will as I go on..."

Black Cradle may not have a typical plot, but it has plenty of story. And a finely told tale it is too. The characterisation is laid heavy on every page, and these are characters you want to know more about. Not because they're sympathetic in the traditional sense, but because they earn your empathy. 

Black Cradle is peopled with the worn-down, the fag-ends of a society in ruin. You could be forgiven for thinking this was a dystopian novel, such is Ray's skill in showing us just how close we were to 1984 in the novel's setting of Birmingham in 1986.

The central character is Billy Zero, a 23-year-old who has just been released from hospital after an attempted suicide. With blurred images of the men in white coats and a bottle of valium in his pocket he sets about trying to piece together his past by assaulting the future.

Billy's first encounter is a rent boy in a public toilet who offers to nosh him off before they get talking about drugs. From there the kaleidoscope turns frequently, if never once actually bringing reality into focus.

Black Cradle is a raucous, rowdy read. There's very little to compare it to -- Ray doesn't even stick to standard punctuation -- so don't expect to have seen any of this before. Do expect to be shocked, confused, thrilled and more than a little invigorated. 

:: Black Cradle by u.v. ray is published by Murder Slim press. Buy on Amazon.