Humanity Hallows Issue 4 Out Now!
Pick up your copy on campus or read online.
By Benjamin Francis Cassidy
Perhaps one of the lesser spoken aphorisms these days is that “Everyone’s got a book in them.” Whether this is actually true for all, or simply an assumption, may never be fully known, but judging by R.B.N Bookmark’s evidence that he certainly has, it seems reasonable to believe this.
A Minger’s Tale is a prime example of literary realism; an autobiography from a man who nobody knows about and, up to the point of reading, nobody has any reason to care about. It is the story of a working class lad, who grew up in and around the Moss Side area of Manchester at a time when Thatcher’s Britain was in the midst of hammering out the very concept of how “Grim up north it just might be.” As a northerner, and to a lesser degree a ‘Manc’, as the author himself puts it, Bookmark shows that there is a whole host of terminology that is unique to the North-West, and that stops existing beyond Piccadilly Station.
There are strengths and weaknesses in the book itself, both stylistically and technically; at times there are some lovely original metaphors and succinct descriptions that really set the scene of the reality of the struggle for so many families of Irish immigrants of the time. The narrator and his family are elevated to represent an entire generation of people, whose individual plights and stories rarely receive the attention they ought to. Sometimes, the book does feel a little rushed, and the fact it hasn’t been professionally edited does come through, with a repeating tendency to over-describe, and push the point too heavily, resulting in things being ‘told’, instead of them being ‘shown’. I also would have liked the area he writes about to have been perhaps captured through use of pathetic fallacy more, using it to apply to an urban setting, which is outside of its usual remit as a literary convention.
What matters most of all though, and ultimately decides whether readers are inclined to read on, is whether they care for the person they are reading about; what the author manages well enough here is to characterise himself as a youngster, and make you care for the boy/scruffy teenager he was then, and understand his experiences, the story being told from an older and wiser perspective. Think Pip in Great Expectations.
Bold is how I would describe this book in one word. It is the voice of a man who felt he needed to be heard and that his story was every bit as valuable as that of any celebrity. Honesty shines through in abundance, along with a lack of apology for the tone of the book, which is every bit the way a bloke down the pub would talk to you, fusing nostalgia with humour. A Minger’s Tale a refreshing read, and a story well-worth hearing. It is available now from Amazon.