By Benjamin Myers (Bluemoose Books)
Writer Ben Myers cut his teeth writing in the music press ”â he was Melody Maker’s youngest ever staff writer – and once told an interviewer that he always preferred to adopt “a fictional approach to journalism in order to make dull bands more interesting”Â.
That combination of fact and fiction was put to good use in Myers’ previous novel Richard, which told the life and final days of Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards. It was a place where literature and music journalism collided. The book divided critics and sparked much discussion about what constitutes fiction and truth in the 21st century, and whether he was right to tackle such a subject. Myers responded by saying that writers from Shakespeare onwards have placed real figures in fictional settings.
The author recently returned (using his full name Benjamin Myers) with new novel Pig Iron, which explores themes of violence, prejudice and poverty in Myers’ native post-industrial north-east of England. He describes it as “rural noir”Â. It centres around the narrative of teenage gypsy John-John Wisdom, who fresh out of prison seeks employment as an ice cream man in and around the council estates, country lanes and ex-pit villages of county Durham. A sensitive soul, John-John seeks the quiet life but finds himself struggling to escape the dark shadow cast over his existence by his bare knuckle boxing father Mac Wisdom and other dark forces.
Pig Iron manages to contrast the violent upbringing of John-John and his father’s fighting career with more reflective meditations on the beauty of nature – reviewers have compared it to the work of Shane Meadows and David Peace. The book has also stirred interest in a number of TV and film companies and has this week been shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not The Booker prize. Readers can vote for it here.