Saturday 23 April 2011

Martin Millar's Written Oral

Sometimes we Dream Of Sex And Stage Diving.
Martin Millar is a good writer. Concise and clipped, precise. His Lonely Werewolf Girl was a Shakespearian drama with its sprawling cast and (as is typical for Millar) counterculture setting. And it was great. But for me and much as I enjoyed LWG, it’s here Dreams Of Sex And Stage Diving.
Brixton and the late 80s, early 90s – and Elfish is at war. In contest with her ex for the right to name their respective bands Queen Mab this is a Brixton I know very well indeed. I know the pubs, I know the times, and I know the people. It’s rare when someone turns a torch upon your life and points out where you’d been, how you were part of a scene and as the years go by I worry I’ll muddle memory and prose. Not because of passing references to the Canning or Cool Tan (of which there are none), Brockwell Park or the George – likewise, but because since I was there, I recognise the stains on the wall. And it’s a very stained book, clotted with vomit and more without any attempt at sympathy for Elfish that saw a friend of mine dislike the work until he saw the classical tragedy of it all. With a snap it made sense. For the story is a very old one, told in a very old way, in a modern setting – albeit that setting yesterday and sorry kids, you probably missed it.
I disagree anyway. Elfish earns some sympathy from me, albeit a selfish sort of sympathy. I’ve known selfish women and a couple have been extremely good mates, and about and before this very time. I don’t have to cheer for her to like her, and since I don’t expect her to be the hero she has nothing to live up to. Which is good because Elfish is a liar and a nasty little thief. And I can see people in her, and I like that. So by the end yes, I’m cheering her on - but waiting for her to fuck up.
Martin Millar’s not a man much given to balloons and cake from what I can make out from interviews. He puts a lot of this into his work, and does it very well. Again I’ve said very little about the story. Read it. But you probably won’t like it. And more shame on you for that.
And Mab is a hell of a name for a child. But sorry, I got there first. She's already seven.

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