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Formerly a croupier, a care worker and a cartographer, Bill Broady was lodging in the attic of Bradford poet and poetry publisher David Tipton when a Littlewoods windfall allowed him to finish his first book. 'Originally Swimmer started out as three poems. One day I was walking on Hampstead Heath with a terrible hangover and realised it was one project.' An intense, stunningly original and lyrical novel, Swimmer was published to high acclaim by Flamingo last January.
Bill Broady has been writing for years. 'I had a mass of stuff – four novels and a massive prose poem…I always knew there was some work in me. I could see the hazy horizon up ahead: it was just a matter of keep tracking it until I got there.' More of his searingly precise prose and wit is collected together in his second book, In This Block There Lives a Slag, a sharp, clever collection of thirteen short stories set around a residential block. Featuring characters such as Maltese Eddie ('shy of the middle fingers of his left hand, he'd said that they'd frozen to the rail on the Murmansk convoys but, another time, that they'd paid off a Yakuza debt') and a Swaledale ram-wrestling academic, these startlingly original Bradford fables give Yorkshire a new dimension.
June 2011 Guest Editor Suzannah Dunn on Swimmer...This is much more ‘me’, and not just because I’m a (daily) swimmer! A suitable choice, too, perhaps, for this Olympic summer… but, er, perhaps not, because this is not - to say the least - an edifying tale… It’s the story of a competitive swimmer: her rise and fall. The shape of the novella is one of its impressive qualities but, within that fluid (no pun intended) structure there’s not a word out of place. I hesitate to call this a ‘literary’ or ‘lyrical’ piece, not because it isn’t, but because I might be (mis)understood to be implying that it’s wordy. On the contrary, it’s crystal clear. And what a story it tells. This novella really is one for a single, spellbound sitting. Addressed to the swimmer herself – ‘you’ – there’s something of a love letter to it, whilst the narration manages at the same time to be benignly detached, all-seeing, the observations forensic. What a balancing act! Quite simply breathtaking.
A cracking collection of short stories from the author of the stupendous `Swimmer'. In the title story of this sharp, clever collection of short stories, an odd-job man arrives home to his Bradford council block to find a message waiting for one of its inhabitants...in ten-foot-high letters. With his white van and set of ladders, he's the chief suspect. But who is the mysterious Slag that has the whole street gossiping; and who has she hurt? In `Wrestling Jacob', a lusty academic takes out his frustrations down on the farm every weekend, sparring with a fierce, strangely human ram. It's hard work being beaten up by a sheep, but he soon realizes that his girlfriends love to see him wrestle Jacob... And in `Coddock', there's a bold new chipshop owner in town. But who is he? And what do you get if you cross a cod with a haddock, anyway? From the backstreets of Bradford to dingy moorland pubs with ten-year-old jukeboxes, Bill Broady's bright new stories give Yorkshire a lick of new paint, with all of the searingly precise prose, wit and energy of his highly acclaimed first novel, `Swimmer'.
This work is suitable for anyone who sweated their way through the summer of '76, and readers of Jonathan's Coe's The Rotters' Club , Martin Amis' Success , and Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden . It's the long, hot summer of 1976 and Adrea is falling in love for the first time, while nursing the decrepit residents of Heron Close, a care home in Chalk Farm. This is the summer that sees Blue Oyster Cult and Supertramp superseded by Patti Smith and the Stranglers, and as the heat rises in and out of the Roundhouse, the lives of residents and carers alike are about to blister and burn. And right in the midst of all this humdrum squalor, like the sun's rays beating back the darkness, are Adrea and Evan, about to let in the light and heat - with inflammatory results.