I don’t think I’ve read a novel written in the second person before but I really liked it and thought it suited the storyline of Ultra Violence perfectly adding a direct, in the moment feel to the whole book. Barry’s attention to detail and his clever turn of phrase is, as always, impeccable and it didn’t matter that I don’t know Nottingham nor do I know anything about football hooliganism. I still enjoyed reading this immensely.
As well as being sometimes humourous, sometimes dark I found this to be a very moving story about a middle aged man struggling with the world he lives in and trying to hang onto his wife and son neither of whom show much interest in him anymore. He doesn’t have anything he truly cares about until a chance encounter with a face from his past brings up memories revealed in flashback to a time when he feels he really was someone. The experiences that moulded his journey to becoming a football hooligan are told in sad and graphic detail.
This book has two endings – both are brilliant. The first, set in the past, is bittersweet, you know what’s coming, and then you’re treated to the second at the end of the epilogue set in the heart breaking present. This is a terrific read throughout but Barry really knows how to end a book and I want to read anything he writes.
The review was originally posted 12 December 2014.
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Mark Barry can be found on Twitter under the handle @GreenWizard62