Monday 24 October 2011

One Man's Opinion: BUCKET NUT by Liza Cody

I got really cross reading this book.

Really cross.

With myself.

It was first published in 1992 and I've only just got round to reading it - what a waste of a lot of years.

Worse still, the review I saw of it at the Drowning Machine was posted about a year ago - no excuses then (but thanks, Naomi, for the tip).

The tale is of a lady wrestler, Eva Wylie.  She's had a tough life and she's a tough lady.

We meet her as she deals with her wimp of an opponent, once again playing out the villain in the pantomime ring.

She lives in a static van.  I read the book in a static van in Grange, though it was a little more comfortable than Eva's scrapyard home - it would be hard for it not to be and the electricity remained connected.

The plot builds beautifully. 

Eva is keen to get money.  She wants to fix her teeth and to gather enough cash to help her appear to be a worthy human being when she eventually tracks down her sister. 

To get said cash, she works for Mr Cheng, part muscle/part delivery girl.  They pay, she asks no questions.

In an act of bad-fortune, she ends up doing a bouncer's shift at a club which is about to be attacked by Mr Cheng's turf-war enemies.  Worse than that, she unwittingly helps out one of those enemies and adopts her like one might a bird with a broken wing.

It's kind of nice for her to have someone to live with other than her guard-dog mates, Ramses and Linekar.

I don't think I'm going to write more on the plot.  Suffice it to say things get easily complicated and the solutions are never close to hand.

What I loved so much about the book was the depth of every character.

All of Eva's surrounding cast are brilliantly sketched. It's like she's a method actor who's been inside all of them to find out what makes them tick.  I felt concern for the author at times due to the depth of her empathy.

That concern was stretched to the limits with Eva herself.  She's big, tough and hard.  She has a heart that's half-gold, half Mercury.  She's as forgiving as anyone can be, yet she's an avenging angel.  Cody expresses things through Eva (or maybe it's the other way around) that wouldn't be out of place in books of philosophy, social-science, language, poetry or joke books.  In another age I think Cody might have been a revolutionary, a suffragette, a saboteur.  In 1992 she was a bloody marvel.

While I read, I also felt a debt to her.  Felt as if the book had been influencing my own writing over the past years.  That might seem impossible given I've never read a novel by her before, but if Ray Banks, Allan Guthrie or Charlie Williams read this book (as I'm sure they did), the path of that influence makes sense.

It's such a big, powerful book this, a bit like Eva herself.  

An absolute gem.

And a plea from me, if there are other similar gems out there, please point them out - don't assume anything with this reader.


  1. I have always enjoyed her books too. Glad to have her remembered. Can I include this on forgotten books this week, Nigel?

  2. I'm so glad you liked this book, too, Nigel. Cody touches heart strings, just like you do.