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Brass [Paperback]

Helen Walsh
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.84 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

5 May 2005
Nineteen-year-old Millie O'Reilly is clever, spiky and adored by men yet utterly forlorn. Increasingly disillusioned, she seeks an escape in the underbelly of Liverpool... Shockingly candid and brutally poetic, Helen Walsh has created a portrait of a city and a generation that offers a female perspective on the harsh truth of growing up in today's Britain. Brass is an unsettling but ultimately compassionate account of the possibilities of identity and the desirability of love.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; New Ed edition (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184195568X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841955681
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


* Walsh's first novel is an amazing insight into female sexuality. Utterly shocking yet completely endearing, this novel is gripping from the first page. Just be warned, it's not for the fainthearted.Raw, sometimes revolting but always compulsive.If you want to find a new sense of what it is like to be a woman in England today, Brass is the most striking coming-of-age story that I have read for a long time ... Helen Walsh is up there with Irvine Welsh in her ability to show what it is that draws people to the extremes of pleasure. Vogue * In Brass, Walsh has created some of literature's sexiest sex scenes, most out-of-it drug-taking and a dark, cynical worldview. But her ultimate offering of love and redemption is something else. Brass is a novel whose imagery you won't easily scrub off the back of your mind. It is spellbinding and utterly unique. Independent * Walsh has a gift for creating character through voice ... To use an image that both protagonist and author would enjoy, these are the budding breasts of a voluptuous talent. The Times * With this gutsy, compassionate, powerful and very memorable literary debut, Walsh proves herself as a considerable new talent. Claire Sawers * Walsh's love/hate affair with the city does for Liverpool what Dickens did for London in an after-hours psycho-geographic sprawl through a schizoid land of sour mild and curdled honey ... This is a book that roars. Neil Cooper

About the Author

Helen Walsh was born in Warrington in 1977 and moved to Barcelona at the age of sixteen. Working as a fixer in the red light district, she saved enough money to put herself through language school. Burnt out and broke, she returned to England a year later and now works with socially excluded teenagers in North Liverpool. Brass is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bold As 28 July 2005
An emotional coming-of-age story is not the kind of book I generally go for, so I was surprised at just how enjoyable Brass was to read. It's not the most original plot in many ways; without revealing anything too significant it is obvious from the off that the life of Millie is not as ideal as it seems. That's not a bad thing; it allows the author to concentrate more on the characters than the situations, and this is a very character lead book. Told alternately from the point of view of Millie, a student with a successful father and Jamie, her platonic older male friend, we see two sides of the same story, how in a friendship nothing is always as clear cut as it appears.
The language is bold, striking and above all realistic and natural. It's crude, but it does not feel forced; the use of Scouse slang works well, the situations and ideas are described vividly and propel the story along at a stunning pace. By the end of the novel you will have been shocked and amused, and you'll be wanting to read more, but you're at the back page by now. It's three am, and you've logged onto Amazon to see if there's anything else by the same author, but not yet. I have no doubt that there will be soon. A great debut novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Liverpool trollop 6 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book has an unlikeable but very compelling main human character, who stomps around her city in a drug and booze induced fume, dispensing violence and emotional disdain wherever she goes, except where she feels that she is due money handouts or a shoulder of sympathy. She is an emotionally ugly late adolescent who hasn't come to terms with the fact that other people have lives, needs and opinions, and this makes her a very unusual heroine, because she is fascinating for her faults and for her mechanism. In fact, the real heroine of the story is the windswept city of Liverpool that she haunts: I see myself in the laughing, dim clutches of students that the girl despises with needy-eyed disdain, and I follow her movements around the named city streets like a wraith. Not a very comfortable read, but it's characters grip long after the book is consigned to archive.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Where there's muck... 9 Feb 2013
This feels like a book written to shock and, focusing on young female hypersexuality as it does, it certainly has the potential to do that. The relentless tug of emotion-less lust, the drug-taking, the couple of references to Hubert Selby.. it is clear Walsh is a fan of the late American novelist's iconoclastic work. This is a novel of pestilence and whores (the brass of the title), a grinding place of poverty where there is not enough time for wounds to be licked.

Walsh's writing isn't without its merits, but I found the two voices (Millie's story dominating, best friend Jamie's voice pretty insubstantial in support) didn't always work. Millie in particular is such a hateful character that it is often difficult to care for her. The revelations in the last part of the book were not surprising in the slightest and I felt the ending lacked bite. But this is none the less bold writing and that has to be championed. I lost count of how many times the C word was used- no problem there, for me- but the scene of a predatory Millie and young teenage girl, drunk and covered in bruises from her abusive dad's hands, made me sick to my stomach. The writer acknowledges that hurt is passed down generation to generation then shared around in life. This hurt is secrets or lies or physical pain inflicted with a smile or the losses that strip away at us, human hurt that leads to animal behaviour.

Powerful in its depiction of the despair of red-lit Toxteth streets in Liverpool, the book does hint at the redemptive nature of love. There's something in that ending that is a hopeful beginning.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating Journey Through an Urban Dystopia 5 Oct 2010
By Zipster Zeus VINE VOICE
I found this a strangely compelling book; the central character 19 year old Millie,is presented at first as an out and out drug taking, sexually adventourous nihilist but of course she can afford to be; she has a nice middle class backgroundand University lecturer Dad to fall back on.

It is her relationship with the more scally Jamie- whose first person perspective we ocassionally get on his relationship with Millie and who comes out as the more rounded of the two characters- that is central to the story which veers too often towards a predictable template but remains well written and attention holding to the last.

In fact Helen Walsh's strength is in capturing the voice of her generation and the metropolitan underside of the 21st century UK city- in this case Liverpool. In a funny sort of way I couldn't help thinking it was our Bright Lights Big City reversed, a sort of hall of mirrors warping of excess at the other end of the social scale.

A good, stimulating read that if you tune right into, you will sail through. Just don't expect to be too emotionally challenged, or meet any people you can particularly warm to :)
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the ending I expected 1 Mar 2005
I thouht that Brass was a thoroughly absorbing book. The characters, although extreme, where easy to empathise with on some levels. The story flowed along at a resonable pace and the characters developed in personality as you got to know them.
The only thing stopping me remembering this as a good book is the ending. It just doesn't fit with the rest of the book. But if you can ignore the complete reality shift at the end, it's worth giving it a go.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars tin eared
Backs are arched, hair is coal black, skies are pierced by cathedral spires - all in the first few pages.
Clichés are scattered like..................
Published on 6 Aug 2011 by F. Brown
3.0 out of 5 stars The bronchial cough of next door's car
Written to shock, this succeeds from the very first page, describing a sex act for which a young woman has paid a prostitute. Read more
Published on 19 Feb 2010 by Eileen Shaw
3.0 out of 5 stars brass by helen walsh
Helen walsh gives us Millie O' Reilly, a messed up 19 tear old with a penchant for sex and drugs. The book follows Millie's thoughts and actions during her a very difficult period... Read more
Published on 22 Dec 2009 by Mrs. Emma Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Little Book !
I'm not a great book reader but this book really made me take notice; a great read that flows well, yes shocking and crude in places but thats what makes the book so difficult to... Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2009 by Karl
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking but accurate?
Having recently enjoyed Somewhere in England I rushed out to buy Brass.
This was an excellent read, shocking but addictive. Read more
Published on 25 May 2008 by J. Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Savage
I thought I was unshockable.... but then I read 'Brass' and realised I am not, thank god.
Helen Walsh's novel is raw, savage and unputdownable. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published on 12 Feb 2008 by Pevers
1.0 out of 5 stars Middle Class out of towner slums it
Walshs book purports to chart the journey into self awareness of Millie O'Reilley a 19 year old middle class bisexual girl as she licks, sucks and snorts her way around several... Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2005 by KEVIN HASSETT
5.0 out of 5 stars breath taking!
I read this book in a translation, I'm not English-speaking.
The blood/pain/soul/body fluids Walsh putted in this piece of art is dripping from the pages and crawl under your... Read more
Published on 10 July 2005
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