Hero of the Underworld

Jimmy Boyle, Author Serpent's Tail $14 (216p) ISBN 978-1-85242-608-8
Boyle (A Sense of Freedom) deploys his crushed velvet prose like a blunt instrument, assaulting the reader's sensibilities with the darkly amusing exploits of a former mental patient. Driven by his mother's suicide into a string of brutal ""homes,"" young John Ferguson is forced to defend himself from abuse, and his violent resistance lands him at the Institution, a quack insane asylum that is a bastion of drugs and depravity. After being brutalized by male nurses, John renames himself Hero and sits in solitary confinement for 11 years until set free, for unknown reasons, by the secretary of state. Given a slave labor job in the Offal Room of a revolting abattoir, Hero joins up with Bonecrusher, a midget with a lobotomy and a taste for discarded animal parts, and later with Sligo, another former inmate. Together, the trio set out to get revenge on all those who have contributed to their misery. Their daftly clever plan involves multiple thefts, cadaver meddling, local Mob action, grave robbing and a good deal of violence. A former convict and a native of the notorious Gorbals section of Glasgow, Boyle knows the mean streets better than most and weaves a darkly comic tale, more reminiscent of Burroughs and Kafka than of his Scots contemporaries Irvine Welsh and Alan Warner. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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