What wild wretched excess this book is. A creative furor. You know how we’re often told that it’s not wise to do something or other just because we can, that some things are better left undone? Well, Trent Dalton can and does. He not only pulls out all the stops, he pulls it off, and it is wonderful – over the top, packed to the brim, a real gusher of a read. We meet Eli Bell at the age of twelve, an old soul with a lucky freckle on his right forefinger. He is younger brother to Augustus, who is mute by choice and otherworldly. When too young to remember, both boys were nearly drowned by their biological father and now live with their Mum and boyfriend Lyle, small time drug dealers and users. Their babysitter is Slim Halliday, a notorious prison escapee, who may or may not have murdered a taxi driver with a hammer, and something of a philosopher. You tend to get that way when, like Slim, you’ve been through some stuff. But it’s not all bad ‘cause the boys love and are loved by Mum, Lyle and Slim.
Don’t you know, though, original sin will get you every time. Lyle gets ambitious and runs afoul of some seriously ugly evil in the drug trade: “Back Off” Bich Dang, Vietnamese entrepreneur, pillar of the community, supplier to Lyle and a wicked, wicked woman; the wonderfully named Tytus Broz, manufacturer of prosthetic limbs, also pillar of the community, filthy rich drug kingpin and truly heartless bastard; and Iwan Kroll, unlikely llama farmer, cadaverous, shivery, sadistically cruel, and Tytus Broz’s hitman. Sub-plots, mysterious depths and reflections, secondary twists, back stories, side roads and diversions in abundance, lyrical, silly and gory; but, good gravy, it all works, so let’s not analyze it. Set in Australia by an Australian. Some of the best writers on the planet. Nature or nurture?
Boy Swallows Universe is in bookstores now. Shop your local indie bookstore for it.
Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by HarperCollins Publishers / Harper via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the publisher, the author and NetGalley for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed herein are my own.