1974 by David Peace ****

Reading dates: 10 – 17 October 2013

So, after reading Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette? I found it very hard to continue reading my current list — The Rainbow, A Tale of Two Cities , Du côté de chez Swann — because I did not find them energetic enough (especially the Rainbow, which I am on the brink of ditching). Neil suggested I try David Peace, as I really enjoyed the TV adaptation of Red Riding. I also wanted to experience his style, marked by repetition, quick fire dialogue and non-resolutions. My copy of 1974 has an endorsement from the Independent on Sunday: ‘Breathless, extravagant and ultra-violent’. For once, this is spot on, especially if I simply take ‘extravagant’ to mean lacking in restraint. I want to read the rest of the quartet, of course, but I need to pace myself. This book is of the stuff from which obsessions are made. It helps that I know the terrain; I know Yorkshire, and it is very well portrayed, especially in language. I read it with an accent. The story takes no prisoners, a little like the TV show The Wire: you consider the worst that could happen and something even worse develops in the narrative, leaving you drained of your blood. This is the North, where they do what they want to, and I witnessed it with eyes half-closed in disbelief and disgust. I did most certainly find energetic writing, and in my favourite genre too.