Fiction Reviews


(2001) Steve Aylett, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, 131pp, ISBN 0-575-07110-9

This is a screamingly funny collection of shorts from the surreal and brilliant Steve Aylett, some of which are set in his "Beerlight" universe. If, as Johnny Rotten says, 'anger is an energy', then Aylett is a nuclear power plant of vitriolic humour coupled to a wild imagination and a wonderful way with words. Nearly all reviewers have to resort to likening Aylett to somebody (or several somebodies), and these include William Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, JG Ballard and Phil Dick. Because of Aylett's lyrical (and often astounding) use of language, I would also add Jeff Noon to the list but, at heart, Aylett is no one but himself – to fall back on another reviewer cliché, his is a unique voice. The only problem I can see is that his work is, relatively speaking, expensive (I don't care to speculate why – ask the publishers…), but I think it's worth every penny. Unless it has become a dirty word while I wasn't looking, I would say this is literature, as in 'this stuff should be on university reading lists'. On second thoughts, it would probably be wasted on those piss-heads; far better it should remain with us piss-heads. Anyway, do yourself a favour and read anything of his you can get your hands on.

Tony Chester

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