Wild Life
145 pages

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145 pages

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'Compelling, chilling investigation into the dark instincts of masculinity'


Longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize 2016

When we moved into the wild, the wild moved into us.

When a troubled advertising salesman loses his job, the fragile wall between his public and private personas comes tumbling down. Fleeing his debtors, Adam abandons his family and takes to sleeping rough in a local park, where a fraternity of homeless men befriend him.

As the months pass, Adam gradually learns to appreciate the tough new regime, until winter arrives early, threatening to turn his paradise into a nightmare.

Starving, exhausted and sick of the constant infighting, Adam decides to return to his family. The men, however, have other plans for him. With time running out, and the stakes raised unbearably high, Adam is forced to question whether any of us can truly escape the wildness within.

Liam Brown brings us another enthralling survival tale which questions human belonging in either nature or society. Adam gambles with his life in this Lord of the Flies style struggle as he tries to escape back to modern society, with his sanity intact.

What Reviewers and Readers Say:

'An inventive, finely written and disturbing portrait of 21st century park life, a world where the urban and the feral are bound to clash but are also destined to unearth a fragile, tender optimism.' 

Jim Grace (Man Booker Prize- shortlisted author)

'Viscerally propulsive. I read Liam Brown's new novel the way I might have once gone on a three-day bender. Wild Life is as intoxicating as home-distilled hooch.' 

Stephen May (Costa Novel Award- shortlisted author of 'Life! Death! Pirates!')

' A deliciously visceral undercurrent of violence ... this compulsive read demands to be devoured in one sitting.'

 Kerry Hadley-Price (author of 'The Black Country')

'With shades of Ballard, Lord of the Flies and Bear Grylls … dark, brutal, funny and unforgettable.' 

Benjamin Myers (author of 'Beastlings' and 'Pig Iron')


Peel back the skin. Beneath the well-oiled order of the world. Behind the sterile veneer of concrete, steel and glass beats something else. Something wild and animal, crouched in the shadows, just aching to shake loose. You can catch a glimpse of it now and then, if you look in the right places. If you keep very still and stay very quiet.

It’s there in the alleyways you’re scared to walk down at night, where broken bottles and discarded syringe cases glisten in the flickering street lights, crackling under foot like first frost. It’s there in the aerosol-propelled acronyms scrawled under bridges and along embankments, a smudged alphabet of affiliation and violence. It’s in the faded bloodstains spattering the pavements outside all-night bars and in the cremated body panels of burnt-out cars. It’s in the age-blackened creases of a badly photocopied missing person poster. It’s in the long shadows that slink towards your dustbins at dusk and at dawn. It’s a stirring in the hedgerows, a shriek in the wind.

It sleeps in shop doorways and it roams in packs.

Most people don’t look. They don’t want to see that world. They cross the road, avoid eye contact. They change the channel, flip the page, close the window. Hit Escape. They keep their heads down – or worse, they keep them filled up with an ever-expanding list of distractions and diversions. Politics. Football. Social media. Shopping. Things that trick them into believing they are part of something tangible. Neat. Knowable. Things that reassure them that life is a game, that it is playable and can be won. If only they follow the rules.

And so they follow the rules.

They work hard at school and attend a good university. They graduate and join a well-established firm on the ground floor, quickly catching the eye of senior management and hauling themselves up two or three rungs. Their salary doubles, triples. They enrol in a pension plan, health plan, insurance plan. They start an investment portfolio. They join a gym, play tennis at the weekends. They eat a nutritionally balanced diet and leave a column marked ‘grooming’ on their monthly expenses spreadsheet. They go for minibreaks in Barcelona, Milan, Copenhagen. They meet someone and begin viewing apartments. They get married, and within months realise they’re going to need a bigger place. Meanwhile the years roll on. Twenties slide towards thirties. Weekends at the gym make way for barbeques with friends, until suddenly they’re forty. IBS, grey hairs, an unlimited line of credit. Another promotion, a waistline expanding parallel to their salary. A bigger car, a second child, a new home, the whole story pixelated and edited into a neat, nourishing narrative to preserve indefinitely in online shrines to their own success.

They do not drink heavily in the evenings. They do not open a secret bank account in order to deposit funds for gambling or develop a cocaine habit or sleep with their twenty-four-year-old secretaries. They do not fuck everything up.

They play an active part in the local community, organise charity quiz evenings, participate in politics. They take pride in their garden, imposing an artificial order on the natural world with the sweep of a petrol strimmer and the pump and spray of carcinogenic herbicides. They stay at home at night and stream HBO dramas while tracing patterns on their iPads. They check the gas, the kids and finally the burglar alarm before they go to bed each night, happy to believe that their personal hygiene routines and their bland domesticity and their positive bank balances will deliver them from evil, will somehow inoculate them from the wildness of the world. Will keep it locked outside. But they’ve forgotten something.

You’ve forgotten something.

Because for all of your shopping and shaving and talking and texting, you’re still nothing but an animal. Fucking. Fighting. Taking what you want without asking. You can wring a tie around your neck, anaesthetise yourself with garden furniture catalogues and Internet pornography, but you can only hold it back for so long. The wildness is in you – is you – and no matter how the wooden blocks of your successes stack symmetrically on top of one another, your education, your job, your car, your wife, your kids, all it would take is for a single lapse of concentration, one fumbled false move and your entire sorry life will come tumbling down around you, leaving you thrashing around in the dirt with all the other beasts.

And who knows what you’ll be capable of then?

So I ask you – and I know after all I’ve put you through I have no right to ask such a thing – to try and remember who and what you are. Beneath the mousse and moisturiser. Under the coats of concealer and fake tan. At night, go to a dark place and look upon ancient things. Stars. Galaxies. Things that make the world seem new again. Kneel down and let your hands run through the living, beating earth. Let the filth get under your fingernails. Feel around in the cracks for the people who have already slipped between them, knowing that you could join them at any time. That the only thing separating you, one way or another, is chance. Don’t be afraid. Pick the scab. Gouge the flesh and poke around. Look. Look.

I dare you to look.



Publié par
Date de parution 13 juin 2016
Nombre de lectures 3
EAN13 9781785079719
Langue English

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