Saturday, 8 October 2011
One Man's Opinion: THE CHAOS WE KNOW by KEITH RAWSON
I’ve known chaos.
My mind won’t work in straight lines. I’ve done things that are highly irrational all my life. Lucked out many times to get through to my 47th year on the planet.
Many of my friends live in chaos, too. Skirt in and out of the shadows. Cross the borderline between sanity and insanity on a regular basis.
And then I read ‘The Chaos We Know’ and feel like my life’s been completely sheltered and protected from the very beginning.
I know no chaos like the characters Keith Rawson introduces in his collection.
What’s more, these guys have got so used to their upturned lives that they wouldn’t see them as crazy if you drew all over their foreheads in lipstick and forced them to look into mirrors.
These stories are dark. The places are shady. The drugs and booze and violence are merely the furniture for everyone to settle their backsides into, those arses fitting into the cushions like conjoined twins separated at birth.
People on Rawson’s pages barely keep afloat. Imagine drowning in a sewer, bobbing on the surface only because of your indigestion and where the only way to breathe is to swallow a mouthful of filth at the same time and you may just get a sense of where these guys are.
It may seem like I didn’t enjoy it. Maybe I shouldn’t have either, but I lapped it up. Huge helpings of good fiction to keep me thoroughly entertained and engrossed wherever I happened to be reading.
The pictures are well-painted, the characters so well-sculpted, I’d swear Keith Rawson must have lived one hell of a life and gone through it with a photographic memory.
A couple of stories stand out as my favourites.
The first is about a box. It’s a box where a crazy father locks his family when they commit minor offences. When he puts his wife in on one occasion and she fails to make a noise for a good 4 hours, he starts to get worried. And, boy, does he need to be.
The other, ‘Memory Lane’ tells the tale of a crook turned cop turned crook who’s put in a rather unusual Catch 22.
Here are a couple of descriptions that might give you a sense of the mood:
‘The two major differences between them [mother and wife] being that my mother could never shoot a convenience store clerk in the face for not emptying the register fast enough, nor could she hit a deflated, blackened vein with a hypo loaded with a sweet mixture of coke and smack at twenty paces.’
And this pondering over maternal desire:
‘I asked her if she could really see herself having a little bundle of diaper rash and shit sucking on her tit all day?’
It’s brutal, raw and sometimes difficult.
It’s also powerful, engaging and skilfully done.
You’ll see this book when you get up your Amazon page. You’ll avert your eyes and try and keep away. You know it’s not good for you to visit places like this. You also know you’re going to click in the end. Isn’t it better to click ‘buy’ now rather that waste all that energy fighting the inevitable? Well isn’t it?