I've had the pleasure over the last week to devour a new novel from British writer, Gary William Murning. Murning is the author of If I Never, a fine book, a thriller, I read last year. The new offering is essentially a fictionalized memoir titled Children of the Resolution. To say the least, Murning has upped his already fine game in his second major work of fiction. He did it by reaching into his past -- and his heart. The only thing I don't like about this book is the cover art.
Children of the Resolution is a dark and moving coming-of-age story, the journey of a clever disabled boy, Carl Grantham. The setting is the late 1970's and early 1980's, a time when there was apparently a "resolution" to be more inclusive of the handicap in Great Britain. Part of what makes this story so relevant, right now, is the current effort of the coalition government to sell UK citizens the "Big Society". It's not hard to imagine after reading Children how the impact of that policy will go awry. This book is about how the disabled were (and are) treated, from an insiders perspective. It's not encouraging how good intentions go wrong.
But back to the story, Carl, is disabled, wheel chair bound, but that's really only the beginning of the character. Carl's an avid and thoughtful reader, he listens to Elvis, he can cuss a blue streak, he's willful, sometimes cutting and judgmental, and, he has heart. One of the values of this book is that it humanizes the disabled in an unsentimental way, removing the barrier of their difference, and letting us see them as simply people. People like Carl's mate, Johnny, another disabled boy. Here the portrait painted is Goya-esque; twisted, beautiful, dark, sad, heart-rending, courageous, funny, and unforgettable. Murning has totally upped his game in creating this deeply chiseled character.
There is pain in this book -- the every day suffering and hardships of the disabled, and the unique and unnecessary indignities they sometimes withstand. The disabled lead challenging lives, as this book makes clear, and Murning's characters face the music with courage, and razor-sharp, ironic, ribald humor. Thank God for the authentic humor in this book, without which I would have had to break every so often for a stiff shot of scotch.
Buy this book and read it for inspiration and insight. Enjoy a truly singular story by an emerging master of fiction, Gary William Murning.