Alternately hilarious, shocking and sad, Crystal Jeans’ latest novel is set in Cardiff. But perhaps not the Cardiff the urban planners and WAG mavens would use in their shiny advertising campaigns.
Each chapter is narrated by different characters linked by the street on which most of them live and the appearance in them all (to greater or lesser extent) of the title character the alcoholic vagrant who for one of the neighbours is an unusual subject of desire. Set in various homes, streets and parks, and a nearby care home for the demented elderly the story lines are darkly humorous and occasionally rude and crude – up front portrayals of people on the frontline of urban poverty, disenfranchisement, drug culture and unappreciated but essential work lives. Lit up with authentic characters and appealing voices, and the full gamut of human relationships platonic, romantic and sexual this is an unputdownable journey into the underside of contemporary Wales.
Where do I start? This has to be one of the more unique reads I’ve had. Set in a small neighbourhood in Wales, this is a collection of seemingly separate stories, but each has a link…..The Monsterberry Crush…..a homeless man who is never without alcohol.
There is a death, a woman with a sexual fantasy about the pee soaked Monsterberry, an artist who sits watching her neighbours, a care home for elderly dementia patients and a carer at the end of her tether, a shit soaked adult nappy, a goldfish and a social experiment with jars of rice.
This is full of human interactions in all their glory, eccentric, emotional, completely dysfunctional, grim, gritty and so very funny…..so real and utterly compelling, this will stay with me for a long time.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book and this is my honest, unbiased review.
You can buy a copy here
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Crystal Jeans was born and brought up in Cardiff. She lived in Bristol before doing first a Creative Writing BA then an MPhil at the University of Glamorgan. She works in a care home, which inspired a collection of poetry about dementia (Mulfran Press). She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2010), had poetry published by Seren Press, and two short stories published by New Welsh Review.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE 2017
A heart-warming, occasionally scabrous insight into growing up wild in the 1990s when your family didn’t quite fit in. ‘It’s funny, it’s fiery, it inhabits the voice of
its unforgettable characters … Crystal is a top stylist with a soaring mind.’ New Welsh Review.
WINNER OF THE WALES BOOK OF THE YEAR, ENGLISH FICTION, 2018
a “funny, dark, shocking and warm novel which propels us through a week in its main character’s life and his journey of self-discovery”. Wales Book of the Year judges.
“convincing, moving, funny, flawlessly sustained, and utterly compelling.” Niall Griffiths
Light Switches Are My Kryptonite
KEY SELLING POINTS:
From Wales Book of the Year award winning and Bridport Prize and Polari Prize shortlisted author
Will appeal to those who love the novels and stories of Niall Griffiths and Rachel Tresize
Find Crystal at: @crystaljeans1 https://crystaljeans.wordpress.com/
Extracts published in New Welsh Review