Monday, 12 September 2011

Everything I Found On The Beach by Cynan Jones

Life On The Edge
review by Maryom

The lives of three men are drawn together by the 'thing' that one of them finds on the beach.
Three men, each in his own way living on the edges of society, find their paths drawn irresistibly together - Grzegorz is a Polish immigrant, financially tied to, almost owned by, his employer, slaving away for little pay with no chance to improve his lot. When an offer of big money comes his way, he jumps at it.
Hold ekes out a living as a small time fisherman and gamekeeper, close to the Earth, trying to never take more than he needs and treating the fish and animals he kills with respect and near reverence.
The Big Man is a professional criminal, brought up on father's tales of the good old days of 'respectable' crime and wishing he'd lived back then.

On the surface Everything I Found On The Beach is a thriller - a man finds something valuable, obviously illicit, on the beach, tries to cash in on it and outwit the criminal gangs. But it's also a moving, haunting novel about love, loss and guilt, and about exploitation, greed and being trapped between the two. With his deceptively simple writing style, Jones takes the reader into the lives of Hold and Grzegorz - both trying to deal simply and honestly with the world and finding it isn't enough. Both believe that somewhere out-there is a lucky chance waiting for them - and when they think it's arrived are only too happy to snatch at it.
Running through the minds of all the characters in the novel, is a feeling that at some undefined point in the past things were better. I was particularly struck by the contrast between the Poles' fondly remembered life at home as subsistence farmers where nothing goes to waste and the mechanised conveyor-belt production of meat leading to the destruction of perfectly good food, that they discover in Britain. Even Grzegorz, though, is forced to admit that, however idyllic that life seems in comparison to the one he's now trapped in, against the force of worldwide markets, it is doomed.

A disturbing, melancholy book at times but one I'd heartily recommend.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Parthian

Genre - adult, thriller, literary

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