Ten Storey Love Song
Richard Milward
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Buy *Ten Storey Love Song* by Richard Milward online

Ten Storey Love Song
Richard Milward
HarperPerennial
Paperback
304 pages
October 2009
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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The author's second novel is very, very English. That is, unless you're English yourself or unbelievably hip and ultra-aware of British slang, you simply won't understand a lot of what is being said. Much of it is written idiomatically and with a lot of UK underground/drug-referenced slang. Writing in one long paragraph - no paragraph breaks and no indentations - Milward borrows heavily from a variety of sources including Jack Kerouac, H.S. Thompson, Irvine Welsh and others.

This is a story about the inhabitants of a British council estate (apartment building) who are variously artists (Bobby the Artist is the main character), drug sellers, drug takers, candy store employees, and invariably lost souls. The book tracks the exploits and escapades of these various people, but at times that chronology becomes scrambled because you're not sure if you're still on the Bobby the Artist character or the Allen Blunt character, who likes hanging around schoolyards. Because there are no paragraph breaks, there is no release from one scene to the next.

Milward is a fun writer and he loves his story, but this one just doesn't quite work. Bobby the Artist finally gets his big break with a showing in London, and he ends up literally burning the money he makes. That's not real. And the book ends in a literary way, but not in a tale-closing way: Blunt is being hunted by police and at the end of his rope, so he jumps out of his window.

"Alan Blunt the cu-- carries on falling falling falling off the tower block, eyes full of tears like swelled-up clouds, and he starts really gaining speed and then he ..."
That's it. The thought ends mid-sentence. Bret Easton Ellis did that years ago with Less Than Zero. It's a much-used device that doesn't work very well.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2010

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