Synopses & Reviews
Baillie's stark first novel centers on the teenage denizens of Hamilton Ont. in the 1980s. A self identified "street mod" documents the "empty days and hooligan nights of boots and bats and whisky and beer" struggling through an existence of urban gangs battles with skinheads squat houses prostitution drugs and suicide. The mod his brother and a cadre of friends live their lives "sticking to cause and effect only. Because beyond the simple day to day litany of petty victories in the midst of overwhelming injustices is Consequence." There's an animalistic intensity to the novel's first half as Baillie weaves characters style and situations into a tapestry of apathy and violence sparked with infrequent moments of joy. Yet as years pass and "the advance guard of the next generation" takes over "casually self absorbed and politically indifferent like mopey nihilistic lumberjacks" the novel begins to shed its visceral power perhaps an unavoidable corollary to the protagonist's inescapable maturation. Fortunately the book never becomes (as its self deprecating narrator puts it) "the fruitless ramblings of a Hamilton Hieronymo." It may not quite stick the landing but this is a strong debut littered with glimpses of brilliance. (Aug.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."