Red Riding


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I love David Peace.

There.  I’ve said it.

He is, in my experience, the best writer in Britain, out of a very good lot.

I enjoyed 1974 to the point of gushingness.  And when Jeana said she wanted “A right good, proper crime book to read that wasn’t a load of old shite.” recently I recommended it.

She loved it – perhaps even more than I did.

And now it’s a Channel 4 TV movie.

Me?  I thought it was exceptional, although it strayed from the book’s plot quite considerably.  Most fundamentally in that it made Dunford’s character mainly sympathetic when, in the book, he’s just a twat.  It’s a classic example of a (near) brilliant adaptation of a brilliant book that falls short of the book but finds enough quality to make it brilliant nevertheless.

The acting, cinematography (let’s face it, it WAS a movie) and soundtrack (beautifully understated and not period at all) were all A list.  Some of it actually took your breath away.  It has BAFTA written all over it.  But, and it’s only a but, to us readers, it fell away really badly, plot-wise, compared to the book in the final act.  In fact, Jeana dismissed it, and I agree with her because it turned a grizzly, uncompromising book into a cop-out conclusion.  I was disappointed in that, but it wasn’t enough to spoil the overall effect.

By the bloody way, they were heavy bloody smokers in Yorkshire in the 70’s or what?  Fook me.  It made “the man who wasn’t there” look restrained.  In fact, I’m away to wash my clothes.

As an aside I do want to bring your attention to Peace’s masterpiece, if I haven’t already.  The Damned Utd starring Martin Sheen is soon to hit our screens.

In my opinion it’s likely to be a classic example of a movie that won’t be as good as the book because it can’t be.

We’ll see though.

Fook me though.  I hope I’m wrong likers.

1974 by David Peace


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The talent of David Peace is pretty well documented, but not in the mainstream. Which is a shame because in some ways he is a mainstream writer. Well, he writes crime novels and has written one about football. (Incidentally, the best sports book I have ever read as I documented here.)

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This is firmly in the crime camp. But it’s not Rebus.

David Peace is a unique writer. His style is more aggressive than Mike Tyson on the downturn.

Short.

Sharp.

One sentence para’s.

And grizzly, basic, twisted, evil, some might say sick, uncompromising but utteerly compelling situations.

A plot more convoluted than the current US Democratic Primaries.

1974 is the first in a quartet of books, now known as the Yorkshire series. It’s set in Leeds, Wakefield, Huddersfield and other cities in the grim north. It is not inconsistent with the grim north America of Silence of The Lambs.

Centring around the story of rookie crime reporter Edward Dunford and the murder of a child (part of a serial killer series we are led to believe) it soon escalates into a full-blown corruption case.

Dunford, the masogynistic beer, whisky fag and sex overindulger soon finds himself way out of his depth in a world of property developers, rugby league stars, mediums and worst of all bent cops.

Rather than painting Dunford as the hero Peace makes him a hateful scumbag, and yet still maintains his heroic stance throughout the book.

I cannot think of a central character, of late, that so deflects your sympathy, and yet in at least small amounts, garners it. I can think of few writers that are so visceral and don’t, frankly, give a fuck.

This is a great book. But if you are in any way sensitive…avoid.

But for me, the best thing is I still have three books to read in the quartet , and this is apparently the safe one.

It’s a thrilling prospect.