By Niall Griffiths
I hate this title, and I really dislike this book, which is in turn disgusting, derogatory and generally weird.
But I'm not going to focus on that, you'll be pleased to know. The descriptive scenes of West Wales are stunning, eliciting images of the beautiful and dramatic mountains, moors and heath. It almost seemed reminiscent of The Mabinogion, with it's flow and cadence, at times both poetic and timeless, fitting the heritage of Wales. The author clearly did his research when it came to the animals in the novel, which, even though usually followed by some horrific event (I'm thinking lamb with it's eyes plucked out dying slowly as a child tries to replace the eyes with stones) are accurate and described beautifully.
It takes a very good author to make a barren bit of hillside in Wales, with little but rock and gorse, being pelted with rain or shrouded in mist appear at once beautiful and lifelike.
I also liked the discussions that raged in our Devo seminars about nature versus nurture, and whether the main character was inherently evil and screwed up, or merely a product of the series of terrible events that formed his childhood (personally I'm on the fence, believing in a bit of genetics and a bit of upbringing). I also liked that the issue of devolution or identity wasn't shoved down the reader's throat, apart from the determinedly provocative title, as the question of the formation of a welsh assembly was present in certain scenes in a manner that fitted the situation and the characters, eg on the news, overheard in the pub, or background noise from the radio. It's realistic, not overly complicated.
However, as I've stated, I'm deliberately avoiding the horrific and scaring events of the novel, which at times made me nauseated. This is not a book for anyone remotely squeamish... and I'll leave it at that.
So Catrin Says