Violent Disorder is a sequel to Ultra Violence (reviewed here) but is not written in the second person and although many of the same characters make an appearance it is predominantly about the Bully Brothers who for brevity are called HobNob and Bull. This is a work of fiction about football, but about the hooliganism element of it rather than the pitch level stuff. That said there are many more references to players and managers than in Ultra Violence and if you are not a Notts County fan, or a follower of football in general, these may pass you by, but it matters not in the general reading of this work and it certainly didn’t bother me.
The story opens with the narrator, a writer, in fact Mark Barry himself, travelling with Bull to pick up his brother HobNob from a mysterious facility called Cedar Forest. The writer then follows the progress of the brothers as they aim to keep on the straight and narrow and along the way there are many tales of events and encounters with other clubs and their firms over the years.
One of my favourite parts was a conversation between HobNob and his son, Mini-Beefy, as they walk through town…here’s a taster…
‘…Just down a bit, look, there’s Browne’s wine bar, where you went if you wanted to impress a bird. You couldn’t pull in there – well I couldn’t pull anywhere! – as it was full of couples drinking Barolo and listening to Curtis Steigers.
Some curly haired balladeer. Girl’s music, soft and soulful. Michael Bolton-ish.
You’ve got me here, dad, Mini-Beefy said. I’ve no idea who you are talking about. Are they any good?
Shit, but if you had a woman on the go, listening to ballads like one sung by Steigers, normally put them in a good mood. Worth having your ears pummelled for an hour or two. Trendiest place in Notts for a while. Shut down now…we’ll pass it on the way. You hungry?
Barry makes it very clear; indeed it is written on the back of the book that this is written for adults, it contains scenes of threat, opinions likely to offend, earthy dialogue, incessant foul language and relentless, sometimes extreme, scenes of urban violence. Forewarned is forearmed as they say but for me it was written just as I would expect from that culture.
Violent Disorder differs from Ultra Violence in that it doesn’t have the very personal tale of love and loss running through it so for me lacked some of the heart of Ultra Violence. That said Barry’s writing is as solid as ever. You can’t fault its observational detail, edgy humour and constant ability to surprise…or in this case shock. For that is what I felt when the end came…but there are no spoilers here so you’ll have to find that out for yourselves, won’t you?
Mark Barry can be found on Twitter @GreenWizard62