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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.