I was put off starting this, the first formal novel he's committed for ages, by a dismissive review by some misbegotten hack in one of the broadsheets; 'He's lost it', the substance.
I shouldn't have worried. Lost? Hell, he just got here! This is the full purple microdot and no messing. The moment the town of Hay-on-wye falls in his sights and the bile glands lock-and-load, you know he's really on. A ranting intensity which recalls, but is utterly unlike, the hynotic tones of Burroughs. A kvetching, obsessive exploration of his Welshness, a billious assault on the aforementioned hamlet, a myriad conspiracy theories, some well-kent faces from 'White Chappel' and 'Radon Daughters' and walk-ons for Howard Marks and the ghost of Ritchie Manic.
Like a good bender it all passes in a hilarious, terrifying blur, and you're left gingerly piecing it all together in retrospect. It's too soon to know, but certainly I'd place this up there with his best. And perhaps the strands here are even more intricately woven, the comedy blacker and more knockabout and the rolling boil of the rhetoric even more intense than ever before.
Stand aside for the undisputed one-and-only. Right here, right now, no-one does it better. In fact, no-one does it at all. "You can't dig this, you can't dig nothing, you want the real thing, or you just talkin'?"