Sunday, September 18, 2005

Stump - Niall Griffiths

Niall Griffiths was born in Liverpool and has since moved to Aberystwyth. Both towns have a strong hold on his imagination. His first two novels were set on the west coast of Wales, his third, Stump, re-visited his native city.

Stump is a surprisingly gentle novel, despite the harshness of two of the book's characters, and the hardships endured by its narrator. The story unfolds cleverly: each chapter written from Stump's POV is followed by a chapter written in the third person, consisting mainly of dialogue, and concerning two rather unpleasant yet clueless scousers sent on a mission to track down Stump. The narrator himself is a one-armed ex-alcoholic scouser intent on rebuilding his life in the 'softer' surroundings of a small Welsh town. He is both inspired and challenged by the simplicity of his new life and the rural environment in which he has escaped to, and Griffiths tells his story without great apology or pity. There are some scathing attacks on the 12 step program but recognition also on the narrator's behalf of his own shortcomings and past f*ck-ups, and how they will change his life forever. The plot concludes amusingly but plausibly, and the writing throughout is wonderfully suited to the characters it portrays. This was the first book I've read by Niall Griffiths, and I will be seeking out more in the near future. A very enjoyable read, but you do have to get used to the dialect. It reminded me of On the Road by Jack Kerouac.



Dorothy Cady said...
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Dorothy Cady said...

On your recommendation, I read the first couple of pages of the first in the series. He is a good writer. He introduces a lot of unknown words right off the bat, yet you aren't turned off by them. Instead they draw you into the story, making you want to learn what they mean. And the fact that he's an assassin is even more interesting. After all, how many assassins do we know that we know?

Just wanted to let you know I took a quick look at the book on your review. It looks interesting. I just may add it to my list. (Unfortunately, that means a few months down the road, but it's better to have a list that's too long than one that's too short.)