Tuesday, 6 January 2015

King Crow: Michael Stewart (teeny tiny spoilers in this)

You know when you try and get all social media discerning because if you have a creative bone in your body, THAT is what you do to sell your art, whatever it is. Or told you have to do. I've been doing just that since August, picking at the bones of people (like a Condor *goth face*) and trying to work out creativity, be inspired and connect. And consider the notion of 'outsider'.

There are so many great writers and poets out there on smaller indie press that I've bumped in to via the likes of twitter and Facebook, it's not all foodies and kittens, it just depends how you use it. Anyway, 'King Crow' is a story with a lot of bird references in it. It gave me a flashback to school and 'Kestrel for a Knave' or 'Kes'. Barry Hines is brill, I loved 'Threads' too and there's a similar gritty working class theme in Michael Stewart's writing, a very straight forward depiction of the grim reality, matter of fact violence and crime. Or so it seems in the first two thirds.

My personal experience of  bird references start with The Omen (was it a crow or a raven?) and the pecking out of Billie Whitelaw 's eyes, Hitchcock being a bit birdy about stuff via Daphne Du Maurier and the classic school series 'Look and Read', 'Sky Hunter' where everyone is chasing a Peregrine Falcon. Re Billie Whitelaw, RIP of course, I watched The Krays thinking of her and loved it, the women were fab in it.  And then rewind to ravens in King Crow and Coopers search for them. You read this book and go, shit birds are a biggy, the most violent of all of them is on a Christmas Card every year. I was told Robin's carried the spirit of dead relatives, which is why when one came in my kitchen once, I assumed it was my Grandad and not about to attack me. Anyway...

My point? Michael Stewart's story is of a young boy growing up neglected and losing himself in nature and birds and wanting to fly. I felt sorry for him carrying his dad's photograph and and I felt sorry for his mum grabbing a knife and holding it to his sister's throat. Sheer bloody end of your tether stuff. And we cope by constructing fantastical mechanisms, for some, it's magic, for others, it's nature and for all too many it's drugs. You can't read this book and look at a bird the same ever again.

Seriously though, without giving away the twist: The Human Race is a bit tricky and the imagination keeps us going. And when I read the last chapter, I thought 'oh god of course'. Normally I go 'yeah guessed that'. I haven't read anything like it so that's got to be good.

Michael Stewart has also done a poetry compilation called 'Couples' which is dark and brilliant and has a new book on the 5th March called 'Cafe  Assassin'.


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