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.