Friday 16 December 2011

Book Review: "The Space Between Things" by Charlie Hill

From the moment I learned of the existence of this first novel by an up-and-coming author (ironically, from a slagging-off it received on another site) I just knew I had to have this book.

It's only a slim volume (barely a centimetre thick), weighing in at under 200 pages. But it happens to be set in a time and place I, or somebody I once used to be, once passed through: Birmingham in the early 1990s, around the time of the Criminal Justice Bill.

Ah, Moseley, Moseley, Moseley. It's time to tell you a little bit more about Moseley. Moseley was two B&H out of town on the number 50 bus, just past the inner city, just before the 'burbs. Travelling through, it may not have seemed that Moseley could have provided much in the way of distraction ..... The houses were fronted by common or garden gardens full of flowers and flowers gone to seed and weeds that were flowering and flowering weeds. Moseley may once have been the best looking district of south Birmingham, now it was fraying round the edges, an unremarkable place.

The main protagonists are Arch, a wannabe poet who doesn't take life too seriously; Vee, a photographer who travels to the former Yugoslavia; Stripe, an up-his-own-backside activist; Sorrell, his girlfriend; and Tom, Arch's sidekick, all desperately trying to make sense of things somehow through all the drink and the drugs.

This is a bog-standard tragic love story that, as it unfolds, provides hooks on which to hang some vivid descriptions, and Hill's writing style never disappoints. The characters and the situations are palpably, scarily real. If you were there, you will remember and sigh wistfully, and perhaps wonder where it all went. If you weren't there, you'll wonder WTF?

Published by Indigo Dreams. ISBN 978-190740120-6. RRP £6.99. *****

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