You will now presumably be aware of David Peace’s rapidly growing repuation (The Damned Utd, The Red Riding Trilogy).
I am pleased (smug? Ed.) to say I’ve been ahead of the curve on all this as previous posts will testify and one of his books that hasn’t hit the big screen is the subject of my latest bibliographic indulgence.
GB 84 is an epic piece of writing. Coming in at well over 400 pages it does not set out to make life easy for the reader and it succeeds in holding that to the end.
In parts it’s quite staggeringly brilliant but mostly it’s rather turgid and verging on the contrived. David Peace is a very clever writer, the trouble is that in this book he seems to want to prove the point and actually ends up just annoying the fuck out of you.
It’s a true life act of fiction set around the 1984 miner’s strike with a cast of real life characters, Scargill – The President – and Thatcher chief of all, but is surrounded by characters that are clearly based on real life people, ‘The Jew’ for instance, is an odious spin doctor.
As an elegy to the strike, the great strike one has to say, it is quite breathtaking. It is so detailed, so harrowing that at times you have to look away – the scenes of violence involving police versus flying picket, with the dice so clearly laden in the former’s favour, take your breath away at times But it just goes on and on and. Like the strike itself I guess.
And it has more sub plots than a year’s worth of Coronation Street and in the end that’s all too much. Corruption is the key subplot, but you’ve got loyalty (scabbing), deception (infidelity), espionage, murder, brutality and love (sort of) too to deal with.
Frankly it’s all a bit of a mess, and a long winded one at that.
Could I recommend it?
Is it well written?
Well, technically, yes.
Am I glad it’s over?
Has it put me off David Peace?