Cape/Random House Publishing ) by Kevin
Sampson. Fiction, 2002. 250 Pages. I
envy all you mofos who havenít read this book, and itís prequel, Outlaws, yet because youíve got some fine
reading ahead of you, my friends. Clubland picks up a few days after Outlaws leaves off, and many of the same characters are revisited
here. Itís got a twisting,
turning plot that happily reunites us with lovable bad guys Ged Brennan
and his cousin Moby, and it introduces us to a few new interesting
schemers as well. The story
centers on bull dyke Liverpool public official Shelagh Cormackís plan to
turn her fair city into a newer, improved sex trade/drug-filled version of
Amsterdam. Clubland, like Outlaws,
is told in a series of first person narratives and you learn early on that
with the exception of Ged at times, every one of Ďem is a self-centered,
often fascinatingly conniving SOB. And
like Outlaws, this book builds up to a satisfying explosion of violence
in the end.
The strength of Clubland,
as with all of Kevin Sampsonís books, is the development of the
characters. Number one on
this list is Ged, a moralistic thug who truly believes that his
activities, despite often being on the wrong side of the law, are
contributing to the greater good of his community. I have to say that so far this millennium I havenít found a
character Iíve liked as much as olí Ged.
Heís a wonderful mixture of righteousness, violence, street
smarts and an often hilarious-yet-endearing sense of self-doubt, and his
narratives are far and away the best in the book.
Moby, who is called Moby because of the size of his johnson, is
another favorite from the last book who continues to entertain in this
one. On the outside, heís
an easygoing brute whose main desires are to have a bit of respect from
his peers and to get as much sex as he possibly can.
In Clubland, Sampson
introduces us to the really, REALLY depraved side of Moby Brennan, and oh,
what fun that is! At this
point in my life Iíve read hundreds of books, and I can honestly say
that in Clubland, Moby is
involved in the most disgusting, filthy-ass sex scene Iíve ever read.
A friend of mine asked me if it was worse than when the cop in
Irvine Welshís Filth forces the girl to give him a blow job and then blasts a
horribly vile-smelling fart while sheís servicing him, causing her to
gag in more ways than one. My
reply was that Mobyís shenanigans here make that scene look romantic.
Kevin Sampson writes Ged, Moby, and a few other male characters (most
notably Paul the Hom, the gay hard case whoís trying to make a name for
himself in the Liverpool underworld) extremely well, his female characters
arenít quite as good. I
certainly liked reading their narratives, but characters such as Shelagh
Cormack, brainy young sex worker Jade, and the gorgeous, intelligent,
scheming Haitian/English ice princess Margueritte just werenít as
compelling as his male characters. In
comparison they were a bit stiff and didnít display the intriguing
complexities of their opposite gender counterparts.
Itís one of the few criticisms I have of this book, and itís a
could enjoyably read Clubland without
having read Outlaws, but I
wouldnít recommend it. Not
only does reading Outlaws give
you a lot more insight into the characters in Clubland,
but itís a great book in its own right.
And while I must admit that I liked Outlaws
a tiny bit more than this book, Iíd still have to put Clubland in my top three new books this year. ĖBen Hunter