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Askew Review 15

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by Desmond Barry. Fiction, 2002. 199 Pages.  Jonathan Cape/Random House Publishing- I think my favorite story to come out of Wales was told to me by my old pal, Lee.  He was banging this young lady doggy-style in his parents’ living room one afternoon when he suddenly heard them coming in through the front door.  Lee panicked and shoved his fornicating accomplice away.  Hard.  Her head cracked into the nearby wall and this completely dazed the shit out of her.  Lee’s parents were in the room seconds later and were greeted by the sight of their son sporting a raging hard-on while attempting to hop back into his jeans.  Lying on the floor next to him, naked ass pointed directly up at them, was a semi-conscious girl they’d never seen before (well, at least they’d never seen her from that angle before).  The look on Lee’s conservative, church-going working class parents’ faces must have been priceless.  When I first met Lee I made him tell this story to every new person I introduced him to, making us both, in retrospect, look like complete assholes.
     Desmond Barry’s A Bloody Good Friday is now my second favorite story to come out of Wales.  It takes place on a wildly violent Good Friday in the Welsh valley town of Merthyr Tydfil in 1977.  The main character is Davey Daunt, a godless druggy with a crippled, braced leg.  He runs with the tough boys and freaks of the town, and in this story he breaks down what exactly happened on that legendary evening from several points of view. You’ve got Davey’s best pal Macky, an incredibly tough yet good-hearted SOB just out of jail, and he has an altercation with some gypsies who don’t take kindly to getting their asses kicked.  You’ve got 50 or 60 skinheads who run riot through town hell-bent on kicking the fuck outta shit.  And you’ve got various characters throughout the town who interact with and contribute to this madness during the night, and these characters are a lot of fun in their own right.  To top it all off, you even get a bit of gratuitous sex when Davey surprisingly (well, I guess it’s not a surprise anymore) hooks up with the very seductive Italian waitress, Maria Grazia.
     Despite the coarse nature of the above paragraph, there are actually a lot of subtle things going on in this book.  It’s cool to see how each little incident directly influences what happens next.  There are also many side stories that really enrich this whole crazy tale, and it just shows what a great story teller ol’ Desmond Barry truly is.
     A Bloody Good Friday even has a cool cover.  For the benefit of Askew Reviews’ sizeable Braille readership, it’s a simple shot of a guy who looks like the main character in the movie Snatch getting ready to bust you one in the face.  It gets your blood pumping, just like this story. –Ben Hunter



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