on 30 October 2012
A relentless tale of loss and self-destruction, this is a well written, fast paced story covering the 18 days following a life-changing event in one man's life. Brutal at times, it is an engaging read which I found to be more about the journey than the destination, and what a memorable journey it is. A steal at £1.54. Give it a chance!
on 4 January 2013
So, where to start? I think the most important thing to say about 18 Days is that it is utterly believable; perhaps the most believable aspect of the book is the numbness, non feeling and despair felt by the Davey Sheridan character.
I really liked the the way the story sticks to a kind of classic Hollywood narrative (equilibrium, tragedy, dis-equilibrium, resolution, equilibrium). If you think about it, any cross section of life that is laden with tragedy follows this narrative.
Also, this may or may not have been deliberate but it makes the story work, I like the use of punctuation to illustrate the state of mind of the character. In the beginning the writing is very disjointed (short sentences, jagged and interrupted passages) and then becoming more fluid as the character regains a sense of self, purpose and sanity. So, well done, it works really well.
If I was to liken this to something I have read I would have to say something like Kerouac's 'Big Sur'. It's basically an individual's flirtation with insanity. Like 'Big Sur' not a great deal happens in a narrative sense. A man receives some bad news, drinks a lot and watches a lot of re runs of nineties game shows, but because of the quality of the writing it is compelling and you never want to put it down or stop reading. It's written in such a way that the writing alone drives it on, without the need for dramatic events. Similar also in that sense to Selby Jr's 'The Room', although I haven't read it in full.
The loss of time and cross over and grey areas between sleep and real time are excellent and deserve a mention.
It also wouldn't be gushing to say it has shades of Sartre's Nausea, an attention to tiny detail. The bits about the birds (either stranded in the garden or in a disused shop) are excellent. Are they symbolic or are they simply incidental observations by a man trying to think about anything but his situation? Always give the reader something to interperate, again excellent.
Descriptively it was first class, the passage about the cemetery for example. With pages and pages of description to a degree that would paint a very good picture of surroundings. The description was good but never tiresome is what I'm trying to say here.
On the whole, thoroughly enjoyable, a triumph. If I was to write something for the jacket it would say something like " A masterpiece of a hangover from the post Trainspotting generation".
on 26 October 2012
This book was recommended by a friend, as it's not my usual sort of read. However once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. It truly is an amazing read, I love how the writer makes you feel all different emotions towards the character, his descriptive words were fantastic. I would definitely recommend this to all my friends. I hope to read more by this talented author.
on 2 February 2013
A very dark book, not my usual read, but had me hooked from the start.
Thanks to the authors descriptive writing I shared Davy's pain and anguish, empathised with his paranoia and numbness, and felt compelled to hurtle along on his journey to what I thought was going to be a different conclusion-but what a surprise!
I hope this is the first of many from this author.
on 28 November 2013
I enjoyed this. Not in the sense of the enjoyment you might get from watching your team score the winning goal in stoppage time of the FA Cup final, or the kind of enjoyment you might get when you finally clamber aboard a rollercoaster for the first time at the age of 40 and it turns out they were pretty good fun after all. No, this was the kind of sadistic enjoyment of watching a man drinking himself into a despairing spiral of self harm and memory loss. What do you mean that doesn't sound like fun? No. It doesn't. And it's not. But it is. You know?
This is the tale of Davy Sheridan, a self indulgent, overgrown child of a man who, in the very first chapter, finds himself the widowed father of a new born child. Davy's not the kind of man who'll stand up and take responsibility for his life. He's more the kind of guy who'll fill bottles of denial, whilst he empties bottles of booze. What then happens is eighteen days of unadulterated detachment from the world. I'd say there was misery, but there couldn't be misery if there were no feelings.
So yeah, seriously, I enjoyed this. Allen Miles puts his anti-hero Davy in such a sympathetic position, that it makes it difficult for me as a reader not to relate in some way, even though I couldn't ever even start to imagine what his situation must feel like. It takes a crazy awesome amount of skill to make me think, 'Yeah, that's probably what I'd do,' and whilst I awaited the inevitable outcome, I slipped deeper into the detachment with Davy, and eagerly followed his increasingly bizarre behaviour with baited breath.
I've read one review that says they got bored of the 'because there were no feelings,' phrase, but this was one of my favourite parts. Chuck Palahniuk, for example, uses repetition to perfection in the higher end of his work, 'Sorry mom, sorry God,' from Invisible Monsters, 'I know this, because Tyler knows this,' from Fight Club. It's a highly effective device that Miles demonstrates a controlled skill with, and as much as another reader might find it irritating, it shows a quality understanding of what the author wants to do with his work, and I for one applaud him for it. His descriptions of time lost in the fog of inebriation are top class, and his prose give you a real feel of that kind of camera effect they use in films. I forget the style. But you know the one that's attached to the front of a person and the world moves behind them? Well, that one. That's the vibe I got from the whole book, and I really liked it.
So all in all, Allen Miles puts a totally unsympathetic character in an extremely sympathetic situation and his words grab you by the throat and shake you until you're sick. Then they shake you some more until you're dry retching into your Trilby. Then they shake you again until you're dripping with bile. My only complaint is the ending. As much as I knew it was coming, I kinda wanted something else.
If you want to wear a cloak of somebody else's misery for a few hours, pick this bad boy up. You'll not be disappointed. Highly recommended reading.
on 26 October 2013
Davy rushes to hospital to be at the birth of his first child, but on his arrival he finds that his wife died in the process of delivering the baby. Davy enters a downward spiral of self-destruction.
If there is one word to describe this story it's raw. Within a few pages of the start Davy's beautiful wife, the woman who pulled him out of his self-imposed pit, is dead. He leaves the hospital carrying a bunch of flowers and a teddy, then goes and gets drunk. By the time he wakes up the symbols of a new life are gone, lost somewhere en-route.
Davy spends the next couple of weeks in oblivion, avoiding everyone. He drinks himself stupid, loses whole periods to alcohol. He doesn't care about anyone or anything. He just about manages to get to his wife's funeral, but no more.
The author absolutely puts Davy, and the reader, through the wringer. The poor sod gets into fights, mentally and physically beating himself up, utterly down at his loss, not even thinking about his newborn child. At the same time his family is trying to pull him around, but he resists with his every fibre.
This is a well written story. The emotion and sense of loss is almost visceral in nature. The guy is a total mess, and contemplates finishing it all. Will he? Well, you'll need to read it for yourself, but this is a book that gets better as it progresses.
**Original;y reviewed for Books and Pals blog. May have received free review copy.**
on 12 December 2012
18 Days kicks off on a panicky adrenaline high, then promptly smashes your head in with a large rock. The story of a life blown apart and the cold, automotive haze that follows is a difficult subject, but the superb writing style pulls you relentlessly down into that barren world...while still managing to keep up the tempo. I found myself racing through this, the added air of mystery and paranoia making me fearful for the final outcome. A fantastic read that really hits hard.
on 26 December 2013
I wish I had not bothered to read this. Although it was very good at describing the anguish of one man, the anguish went on and on…and on! Just too much that I nearly put it down at one point. Ever the optimist, I carried on and the end was not much of a story at all. Some awful typos/grammatical errors, but something to read when you have nothing else to do with your time.
on 3 May 2013
Great story of a man who suddenly falls into the biggest elephant trap in his life and his attempts to finally climb back out again. Compulsive reading and I wanted to discover how far the agony would extend and to find out if there was ever going to be any light at the end of the tunnel. Very well written and observed and will most definitely read more from Allan Miles.
on 11 December 2013
I'm a 73 year old man so I've been around the block a few times but I found tears in my eyes when Davy surfaced from his despair and spoke to his "Mam" on the phone.
A brilliantly written description of utter grief from which Davy is saved by the love of his family and ultimately by his own love for his child.