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Author Topic: review of Meat by Joseph D'Lacey  (Read 4890 times)
Geoff_N
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« on: May 16, 2008, 05:17:25 AM »

We don't seem to have a thread for book reviews, unless I've missed it.

I promised Joseph D'Lacey I'd read and review his 2008 release of Meat. It's horror, but not zombie; excruciating but not like anything I've read before. As a veggie, the title (and carcass cover art) put me off picking it up for a week, but once I started, I could hardly put it down. It's weird, compelling, awful, brilliant.

Anyhow here is my review that is going to Amazon:

Review of Meat by Joseph D’Lacey
Published by Bloody Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-905636-15-0

Review by Geoff Nelder co-editor of Escape Velocity magazine

This book isn’t for the timid, and if you are, take your Gaviscon before settling down to read one of the few books that might change your life. To a vegetarian, the title might put you off; if you eat meat, you may be afraid of being lectured. Neither is the case. I’m vegan and didn’t think anything about slaughterhouses or animal empathy could shock me, but I am dazed. Meat doesn’t set out with a philosophical agenda, it is a great story, with plenty of action, characters, a post-apocalyptic setting and several threads. I’m not going to summarise the plot. It’s enough to say that Harry Harrison’s novel, which became the cult film, Soylent Green is for pussy cats compared to Meat.
   
I confess that I didn’t initially like the short sections as the story unfolded from the point-of-view of several main characters, but with the pace so rapidly page-turning it isn’t a serious complaint. Indeed, there are some fine literary moments inside the narrative. D’Lacey cleverly forces characters to not just step back to contemplate their actions and consequences, but to somehow reach inside, and then outside their psyche in a way I’ve not met in other novels. For example, speaking of that elusive spark in someone’s eyes, but then when they die: ‘how could you not wonder where that light went?’

I hate Joseph D’Lacey because he’s created phrases I’d wish I’d written. For example, we’ve all been to a works’ dance where: ‘The music had a stretched, laboured sound to it, but it made the workers jump and twitch nevertheless.’ He has a gift for inverting concepts that is envious. Savour this example:
‘She stopped moving and listened hard. The silence was alive: like someone downstairs was listening for her, not the other way around.’

I am impressed that the end isn’t easy to predict even though there is no plot dependency on a twist. Let’s say that in my animal activist days, I nearly achieved in practice on the odd livestock farm, and still dream about what this book achieves with a whole futuristic town. This gutsy ambush is delivered cleverly, but not without gallons of gory blood, sometimes friendly blood.

Meat is horror, gruesome, and it has a message, whether or not you accept it. It is compelling reading, and it will haunt me forever.
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ForCafe Doom writers...

I don't like books where the POV changes every few pages. It's all OK as far as writing 'rules' are concerned in that the change is with a new section or chapter, and it's not as jerky as a TV soap. The Time Travellers Wife did the same and that hit bestsellers charts, so maybe it's only writer readers who get concerned. In fact as the book developed I was kinda grateful to leap into another character's head and then out again before I became too perverted / corrupted!

D'Lacey is really good at Show. When someone is about to be sliced and scalded to death you are in that character's head from the moment of that inevitability, to the extinguisihing. Here's a sample from a worker who did wrong and knows the punishment is death, but slowly:

‘It had all happened so quickly that he couldn’t make space for it in his mind. And yet, his body knew what was coming. It was preparing. He felt the cold in his feet and hands as his blood flow restricted itself to his core. His face felt cold and wet and there was a torsion of the muscles in his stomach. ...  Uppermost in his mind was the knowledge that this was a room where he would not die.’

I can honestly recommend this book - whether you gorge on meat or nuts --- so to speak.

Geoff
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2010, 11:09:24 AM »

I've just finished reading this, and I thought I'd seen a review of it on here already.

What I'll add/expand upon is that MEAT is a very enjoyable book, but it doesn't start that way.  I found the first chapter to be one massive slice of repetition.  It serves a purpose but it's extremely irritating to have a writer paraphrase himself over and over and over again, expecially because he doesn't do it later on, which begs the question why he bothered doing it in the first place...

Abyrne is a town dependant on meat for its survival, and it's pretty obvious right away what that meat is, but the way its handled (with the descriptions maintaining the pretense that it comes from 'cattle' pretty much all the way through the book) is exceptionally clever.  The backdrop of some unknown cataclysm is also a nice touch, and adds an extra layer to proceedings.  I quite like the constant 'head-hopping' as it helped flesh out the town (ho ho!) and builds up a picture of the different levels of society that now exists.

MEAT is also a real 'page-turner' and is one of those rare books I read in bed, only to find myself staying up for an extra hour just to find out what so-and-so was going to do next.

It does, however, have what I felt to be a wholly unnecessary afterword from D'lacey, which comes across as being defensive of the book.  It's always nice to know where and how authors get their ideas from D'lacey almost apologises for his opinion, not to mention rams the book's themes a little bit down your throat. 

Still, I'm interested to check out more of his work as it had elements of gore and horror I have not seen done before or in a looooong time, and am intriguied as to whether he can repeat his success with later books (plus, since he's now put a few more out it'll be interesting to see how he's 'progressed').
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2010, 01:52:29 PM »

I enjoyed reading Meat too. I don't think I'll be able to watch the film version though.  hiding
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Geoff_N
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2010, 06:19:20 PM »

Ditto on watching the film. Let's run away and watch something else!
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LeeThompson
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2010, 07:32:26 PM »

Another great book review, Geoff! I've heard of the guy but haven't read any of his work. Sounds like a good place for me to start. Meat.

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Geoff_N
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« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2010, 03:52:26 AM »

I've met Joseph d'Lacey in person a couple of times at FantasyCon. We joked about how an author's name might make a difference to his marketing potential. I thought his name was ideal. However, for science fiction I always felt mine was rather weak. Several great science fiction writers have the Dutch van in their name and I think I should have a pseudonym such as Goff van Nelder and thus see my sales soar!

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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2010, 11:15:31 AM »

I enjoyed this book, and I too, couldn't put it down. When the worker was processed, I gripped the book so hard and muttered out load, and couldn't believe what I was reading, brilliant. I wrote Joseph and told him how disturbing the book was at times, and I had my own depiction of the ending. I was dead on too. 
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