Niall Griffiths is one of those writers that makes my fingers tremble with excitement when I pick up one of his books. Wreckage picks up where previous novel Stump left off: Darren and Alastair, two tracksuited malcontents from Liverpool, have just robbed a post office in Cilcain, North Wales. Strangers to wealth of any kind, they quickly return to their hometown with a rucksack stuffed with cash, but all is not well... Alastair, loath though he is to admit it to the unpredictable and extremely dangerous Darren, is overcome with disgust at the nature of their crime and quietly plots his revenge. Unfortunately, Alastair lacks the foresight to ensure the smooth execution of his plan, and from there on things go from bad to worse for the pair of hapless Scousers.
Wreckage is a powerful, poetic and gripping piece of writing about the devastation and damage that violence causes at all levels. It portrays those responsible for this damage as both pitiless and unflinching; the tragic victims as just that. Stylistically, Griffiths' writing alternates between Irvine Welsh-esque, expletive-ridden dialogue, and character-driven internal monologues that betray the unhinged minds behind such behaviour. There are also lengthy passages of rich, descriptive language detailing the geographical and historical context of the story. Griffiths', a Liverpudlian now living in Wales, displays an astonishing grasp of the language, history and socio-economic background of this particular part of the United Kingdom.
Wreckage may make for bleak reading at times, but this is a culturally significant novel that one cannot help but be moved, amused, and - on occasion - awe-struck by and I would recommend it to all fans of so-called 'transgressive' fiction (see: Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palahniuk et al).