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Sunday 12 October 2008

Boy A

by Jonathan Trigell

I am not a bleeding-heart Liberal (anything but). Nor am I even remotely a fan of the current fad for tragi-biogs, where one crime after another is committed on the innocent for the voyeuristic delectation of the reader. No, these are not the places I wish to go for entertainment. So why did I pick up this book: the story of a child who was a child-killer, and of his attempts to be newly born after fourteen years of being locked up?

Peter Mullen, mainly. The book has been made into a film, (and the young actor Andrew Garfield who played Boy A won a BAFTA for his performance.) I have not yet seen it – but if Mullen has chosen to be in it, then the chances are high I will enjoy it, or at least get something positive from it.

And oh, what a positive experience it is. Not the story – no, the story is so sad, so UN-graphic that I occasionally found myself closing my eyes to try to avoid the words. Trigell manages to write nothing offensive, nothing descriptive, and yet… The pain is all there to be felt. That is where the positivity of the book comes from. The beauty of the writing, so simple and yet so elegant. We care for Jack very quickly. We always know what it is that he did, and yet he is painted so cleverly that we care deeply for him. As readers Trigell doesn’t cheat us, but oh boy… does he make us think.

Jonathan Trigell has a second book out, called Cham. The birthday vouchers are going to be taking another hit.

reviewed by Alison Watson

1 comment:

Anne Brooke said...

I keep meaning to look at this one - thanks for the reminder