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Much More than Rite of Passage
on 5 July 2013
Lazily, perhaps The Pimlico Kid may have the misfortune of being labelled undeservedly tagged "a rites of passage novel". It is far more - a writerly memoir of the pains, pleasures and fears of adolescence in one of London's many `villages' in the 1960s by a skilled writer.
The author's reflections are those of a mature,knowing, man who has retained the ability to recreate his youth and reveal it as time of pleasure and innocence and of guilt and loss. The book's writing is sharp, telling, affectionate, humorous and sympathetic.
Evocations of early teenage which feel accurate are not easy to create. They can be stilted, maudlin and overly introspective. Barry Walsh has the skill to bypass these traps to create a completely believable feel of London, its life and working class families. His characters feel accurate, his opinions are un-judgemental and sympathetic.
Whilst my own adolescence in my `down the hill' Wimbledon' may not have totally mirrored that of a gifted grammar school boy in working class Pimlico, the reflections of the hero's life, anxieties and yearnings - and indeed the smutty mind gifted to most 13 year old boys - match those which I and many others faced and enjoyed and hated in equal measure in our youth.
As this early review must indicate, since the book arrived yesterday The Pimlico Kid has come as close to a non-stop read as anything I have picked up for some considerable time. It is a terrifically good piece of work about London, adolescent life and angst which offers readers great pleasures. It deserves considerable success.