2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Tyler Stevens' debut novel (? novella) Street is a quirky and unusual book, narrated in the first person by our friendly protagonist (rather co-incidentally named Tyler!) who seems to be talking us through his nervous breakdown over the course of a couple of days.
The pace is frenetic at times, especially as Tyler spirals into even deeper paranoia and delusion. Along the way he gives us numerous clues as to how he got into this situation and what lies behind his plight, as well as a brief insight into mental health service provision and how the homeless and drug users are shunned and marginalised by `normal' society. At less than 150 pages it was never going to be an in-depth look at the social problems of Britain in the 21st century, but it was an engaging yet challenging read and certainly gave me something to think about.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
'Different and quirky' claims the blurb, and for once they are right - an immensely powerful book, written in the first person about the author's struggles against the dark storms that threaten to totally overwhelm him and the small successes that prevent his descent from frustration into the mindless release of violence.
Biting comment on homelessness, how society tends to turn it's back on those who are labelled as 'mentally ill', and how indeed we seem all too eager to pigeon-hole someone as a 'drug problem', 'alcohol problem' or 'mental problem'.
It is very well written, and conveys perfectly the rollercoaster of emotions the author feels as he struggles to make sense of his surroundings.
A must read, and thoroughly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
First of all I'll mention it's worth having a look at the legendpress website it's an interesting site and they're nurturing some original and different talent but; there's little information anywhere about this particular author. First of all I don't think The Street is 100% reality, it's more a mix of fiction/non fiction, a type of autobiography. Tyler Stevens is both author and protagonist, and this is the incredibly raw and emotional account of Tyler losing his mind, along with just about everything else, and ultimately becoming homeless. Dialogue is punchy, harsh and real, Tyler is the only person talking to you in The Street, and he's telling his own story in his own way and he's quite a scary character. As he plunges into his descent it becomes more and more obvious that Tyler's deeply involved with drugs, both using and supplying, which possibly accounts for his feelings of persecution and hopeless paranoia. He's so at odds with himself he's tearing himself into smaller and smaller pieces and his mental decline made me feel absolutely desperate. Tyler experiences murderous thoughts, he's compelled to harming but is probably more of a danger to himself than to any other person. I thought the inclusion of the snow storm was superb; the tearing, brutal, destructive winds are so obviously a reflection of his inner mind and out of control thoughts, quite brilliant. I can't tell you the ending, because that would be a spoiler but I will add that it moved me to tears. The Street is a novella and not a novel, nowhere near long enough, I'd read it in a couple of hours but; it's not easy to read and I can't say that I enjoyed The Street because it's bleak, grey and angry but; it's an important work because Tyler's telling us the truth about how life is for a huge number of people and just how easy it it for any of us to slip through the net.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2012
Inside the cover to this book it reads "This is Tyler Stevens' first book" and I think that this is very much in evidence in this novel as it incredibly raw and refreshing. The novel is written in the first person and in a very conversational and colloquial way so you really get to feel familiar with Tyler (yes, the chief protagonist is Tyler Stevens, the author) and get inside his head. This really does indicate that much of the novel is semi-autobiographical in nature - although it is clear from the vivid use of nature in the book that this novel is written by someone who not only wanted to communicate about mental illness, drugs and homelessness in a very upfront way but who also has a genuine literary talent. I like the way Tyler analyses his use of words, phrases and punctuation; it's almost as if he is wondering about the public perception of him and how they will judge him - whether it's by his style of writing or in the novel's events. The novel really does raise some important issues about the mentally ill and the homeless and how they have, perhaps, become the new lepers of society. Reading between the lines, it appears that Tyler believes many of those with mental health issues just need a helping hand to get through a rough patch but are so afraid of being socially stigmatised they find themselves unable to accept help - thus leading to situations or a state of mind which are even more likely to spiral out of control. It's catch 22, I suppose. The author has a lot to say about drugs too and it's clear that he thinks they are responsible for screwing up a lot of young lives. So, there are a lot of issue tackled in this book and tackled in a really direct and open manner with absolutely no pretences about what it feels like to mentally ill. It's a really brave piece of writing - even for a book which is perhaps partially fiction. The author doesn't offer any solutions to the problems he describes (although he does wash his drugs down the sink) but I think the fact that a pound from every sale is being donated to Shelter says a lot about where his heart is - even if you don't know the answers at least you can make an effort to help.
on 31 July 2012
After reading a couple of dismally disappointing Big Publishing House novels [one of which inexplicably has made it onto the chattering classes self-congratulatory Booker Long List] it was a breath of fresh air to read this excellent novella from a small independent press.
In barely 40 000 words Tyler Stevens achieves more than the current British literary novel `heavyweights' [excuse me whilst I hold my sides laughing] manage to muster in three times that number.
The story is told in the first person by Tyler, over a couple of days running up to Christmas in a provincial British city. Other characters drift in and out of the narrative- notably a homeless woman called Veronica- but bang central to proceedings is the narrator, who is in the advanced stages of a serious decline in his mental health.
He has a continual desire to inflict violence on random people he meets; although he fantasises about it, he never sees the urges through, because he still knows its wrong. But the urges are driving him crazier and crazier and crazier...
For one night though he offers shelter in his flat to a homeless woman which is to some degree cathartic for him. She leaves the next day though and Tyler decides to track her down again.
The novella is then primarily focused on his couple of days wandering the city centre and his experiences there. He has become a small-time drug dealer who obviously once had a job which he lost; he is also it seems up to his neck in debt and his tenure on his flat is on a knife-edge as he rapidly falls apart mentally. Central to his wanderings also is Old Storm, a huge winter snow storm blowing through the city and something he takes up as a soul mate, in that its wayward tempestuousness mirrors his own plight. In fact the description of this storm and particularly the first night, as thick snow falls on the city centre park he's moving through, is wonderful, evocative stuff in its sublime, atmospheric description of both the natural and built environment. Even jaded old me felt as if I was in that park with him...very, very good.
To mention any more of the story would be a spoiler so I'll leave it there, but I'm so pleased I took a chance on this sparsely told but deeply affecting book. It will not win the Booker Prize but that to me is now A Good Thing when it comes to new literature. The new, vital voices in British fiction are clearly now all in the small independent presses or, increasingly so, being self-published. So if you want to find out what is really happening and vital in British literature today, this is as good a place to start as any.
Tyler is a young man with dark thoughts, troubling thoughts, that he can't get out of his head. These dark, troubling thoughts are making Tyler despondent, not that 'despondent' is actually a word Tyler would ever use himself, of course. No, it's not at all the sort of word he'd want to get caught using. Well, it's just not street enough for a start, is it, a poncy word like that? And Tyler needs to stay street, any man in his position would, wouldn't he? No, all Tyler needs to do is get himself sorted out a bit; take a little time out to get things back on track, like. Take stock. Although Christmas coming up doesn't help, does it? All those crowds of people coming and going, steaming bodies in crowded places doing for him. Filling his head with dark and troubling thoughts. Making him want to...
"Street" by Tyler Stevens (a pseudonym, the publisher tells us) is a tense and poignant first-person novella which is as uplifting as it is upsetting. It offers a brutal and down-to-earth glimpse into a number of difficult issues -- drug dealing, homelessness, mental illness and instability -- as well as the wider causes of alienation from society and societal norms. Tyler's worlds -- both the real one and the one within his head -- are masterfully sketched in poignant and perceptive prose, in a tale overflowing with metaphor and potent imagery, which, while terrifying in places, nevertheless manages to make light of much that comes to pass. Tyler never really seems to take himself too seriously; making his story even more deadly serious as a consequence. Gripping from start to finish, this is a book that everyone should read, even though only a few may be able to say they enjoyed it.
The seriousness of the underlying message of this book is underscored by the publishers' undertaking to donate £1 of its cover price to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity. How street is that, then? So, are you just going to walk on by, now?
This is a strange novel. First released in 2010, it seems the publishers are finally promoting it two years later.
The novel - novella perhaps - is very short and represents a sort of diary kept by a Newcastle drug dealer called Tyler over the space of a couple of days in December. He seems to have some form of psychotic disorder and this causes him to think violent thoughts. He knows this is a problem but is not keen to get sectioned because he worries that this would mess up the rest of his life. And he does seem to be just about holding it together.
Street is written in very simple language, almost monosyllabic. This makes one wonder whether it was written as an adult literacy project. Any long words or unconventional punctuation marks are signposted by Tyler in the narrative. Alas, for all that the novel might have hoped to promote literacy, it fails to promote proofreading. The numerous errors really start to grate. Whilst the plot and ideas in the novel are quite good, the characterisation feels thin. Tyler sort of exists; the other characters are just ciphers. The ending is unexpected but also rather abrupt - it doesn't necessarily seem to follow on adequately from what went before.
The back cover promises an insight into mental illness. This didn't really feel well developed. Tyler is able to function reasonably well; talks of job and family and understands consequences of his actions. For a far more compelling account of mental illness - the fractured and isolating effect of schizophrenia - please do look at Paul Reed's The One. Nevertheless, Street is worth reading for some of the ideas at play, not least its partially accomplished ambition to portray people at the margins of society as being real people with past lives.
Publishers of `Street' are righteously committed to donating £1.00 to the charity Shelter for every copy sold, and readers are presented with thought-provoking insights to homelessness, depression and drug dealings. `Street' is written in the first person by main protagonist, Tyler, and readers must make up their own minds on whether author Tyler Stevens is writing with regard to himself or whether his book is fiction. The character Tyler puts down his own views and assessments to help clear his thinking as he seeks to escape a private Hell of despair and fear - but to escape to where?
Certainly the author is street-wise and has deep understanding of the subjects when he writes about a form of mental breakdown. He is somewhat obsessed by impressive sounding words yet his writing is imperfect with unsavoury swearwords, irritating colloquialism and poor punctuation. Perhaps this adds to authenticity and impact as behind the façade of a narrative style in simple raw language `Street' is a serious and righteous piece of work. Author Tyler Stevens speaks from his heart with a degree of self-loathing as he portrays the horrifying reality of those on the fringe of society. Publicity blurb correctly promises readers something different and quirky, but more importantly `Street' will challenge attitudes to the homeless and the mentally ill, especially those exposed to the devastating and destructive influence of drugs.
This book blew through me like the storm faced by its narrator, and left me feeling as shell-shocked as he was. I predict that it will whip up a similar storm with whomever reads it, and likely cause a great deal of speculation about the author too. Tyler Stevens has written a novel with a protagonist who shares his name, he has a blog titled "of no fixed abode" with a single post in which he expresses the hope that he will have more frequent access to a computer once his book starts selling, and for the moment there seems to be precious little more information about him to be had. Which is bound to feed suspicions about just how much of this work is indeed fiction at all. But whether it is novel or autobiography, the fact remains that this is a startling, compelling piece of literature. Over the course of a weekend, we journey with Tyler as his life, and mind begin to unravel. I have many years of experience volunteering with homeless and vulnerable clients and I feel this book gave me an insight into their lives that perhaps nothing else could, indeed I would like to see it made required reading for all my staff and in secondary schools throughout the country. The writing is raw, the story meandering, the narrative voice will not suit everyone. And yet is a book that everyone should read. Whatever the author's real life story is, his words stand on their own merit.
Tyler Stevens' 'Street' is a tough, gritty, down-to-earth novel pulling on all the resources of life. There is dark humour which many will relate to and the act of intentional violence through consideration is very close to home and I am sure many have thought the same way at some point in their life. The whole story, certainly for me, is so very close to home that it becomes scary seeing it written in print. I was pleased to read that Shelter, the charity set up to help the homeless, receive a £1 for every copy sold and the book is a stark reminder that anyone, at anytime, can become homeless and that living on the streets, wrapped in old clothing, with just cardboard and a shop doorway to protect you from all the elements, is constantly fraught with danger from those who are so ignorant as to even contemplate what has brought this homeless person to this point in their life. Through this book, I hope that readers will be more generous towards those living on the streets - it doesn't have to be financially, just a word or two or a warm smile is enough to give our friends an uplift for that day.
With just 136 pages of reading, split into small manageable chapters, it is enough to get the message across and credit must go to Tyler Stevens and Paperbooks Publishing for releasing this thought-provoking book.