Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Humanity has never been so well connected, so informed of what is going on in the world or the possibilities within it and yet day by day, each passing moment on the clock, someone finds anger, resentment, the reason to start pulling away from society and withdrawing into a world which is safer, clean and with less chance of finding their thoughts tipping over the edge. It is arguably an issue that stems from having to deal with the perceived lacking of understanding, the social anxiety, the modern day disease that comes with no cure, the malaise of knowing that world is as heavily and royally screwed as you imagine.
No matter where you in the world there are areas, pockets, large gaping holes into which the socially deprived, the forgotten and the invisible muster; no town, city or even village is immune, for somebody even in the most glittering palace is alone, tired and on the verge of social meltdown. It is a world that Nathan O’ Hagan explores brilliantly in his novel The World Is [Not] A Cold Dead Place and one that leaves the reader exhausted and spent but wanting to laugh, wanting to hold the protagonist close, not that he would let you, and conclude that some people that society actually distances themselves from are more than likely the ones to whom have the right idea.
As with any novel there are moments in which the reader cannot help but place themselves, for anyone who has worked in a call centre environment and listened to the inane ramblings and arguments of those to whom the day is just not well spent without a rant down the phone, or who finds that they have this one friend from their childhood who has not moved on, to whom getting in fights, drinking excessively and running into trouble with the law is all part of a game; then novel The World Is [Not] A Cold Dead Place might actually open their eyes even further to the denigration of Western civilisation and the sleepwalking back through our evolutionary path that is abundantly clear.
Nathan O’ Hagan’s personal dystopia, whilst set in the once leafy and previously affluent Birkenhead, a place where ships were built and ideas conceived, now almost left, certainly in the mind of anti hero Gary Lennon, as though it is rotting from the inside out, infecting everybody and adding to their own poison that seeps out and tarnishes relationships, sex, enjoyment and the possibility of life.
Nathan O’ Hagan’s writing captures a mood, a real sense of anger that perhaps has not been seen in such forceful, descriptive writing since the days when Holden Caulfield snatched J.D. Salinger into the world of rebellion and profanity forever.
A story that captures the feeling of inadequacy, of brutal and distilled anger that pervades every street, that the moment of perverse annoyance which spills over into enraged exasperation and is only truly clamed when you find that one person who doesn’t irritate you as much as anybody else, so well that you cannot help but admire Mr. O’ Hagan’s rebel without a cause.
Ian D. Hall