Sunday 30 September 2018
Review by Peter Flack of "A Monster's Tale" by Kelso Simon
Kelso Simon left his Leicester school school without any qualifications. Not the ideal start for a novelist, but despite this his first book, A Monster's Tale, came out in August. It isn't a horror story - unless the harsh, brutal realities of working class life in communities raddled with drugs counts as horror. In essence it is a return to the 'kitchen sink' novels of the 1950s, and one which is upfront about the effects of inequality and poverty on people. It grinds them down, dehumanises them and, in Simon's book, brutalises them to the point where, with nothing to lose, they become all-too-like the monsters strutting around them, buoyed up by fear, violence and money.
That the novel has a moral core is undoubted. None of the violence in the story is gratuitous. It leads us inexorably to the inevitable outcome at the end of the book. It also contributes towards the main theme: that caring, looking after your community and gentleness ought to be more valued in our society than the Thatcherite values of status, power and money. Well worth a read.
About the reviewer
Peter Flack is a former teacher and member of the National Union of Teachers. He is co-founder of the Whatever it Takes literacy project and chair of Everybody's Reading Festival in Leicester.