Sunday, 23 August 2015

‘Redbone’ by Matt Phillips, reviewed by Gunnar Davíðsson.

When you swing, swing hard.

“A little bit of bourbon, too much silence and enough walking and work to make a 38-year-old man’s feet hurt like hell. That’s what Calvin got today, and that’s what he’d get tomorrow. Until he got something else, something different.”
Well, something different was what he got. Calvin G. Redbone’s day starts off with a little coffee and a little bourbon just like it does every other day but after that it’s all downhill from there. First he loses his friend, Mister Salmons, then he loses his job courtesy of the slimy two-faced Seymour Aiken. It’s around now that he realises that “Calvin G. Redbone was a poor man, he was one poor sonofabitch.” And that ain’t no shit.
He hasn’t got much left apart from the saucy Marnie who lives in the same rundown trailer park they call Paradise and it’s getting so that he doesn’t have much left to lose at all. His day goes from bad to worse as he’s confronted by the greed of the tedious Ronald Grimace, asshole extraordinaire and Mister’s son, Grayson Salmons. Two men who enjoy making money for the sake of making money and treating men like shit for the sake of treating men like shit. Because, “When things are too easy for people, they turn into pricks.”
The local cop, Deputy Peach-fuzz does his best to keep Calvin on the straight and narrow but it becomes an ever-increasingly difficult task as it seems that everything he touches turns to dust. “The roses died and went to hell. Like a lot of people do. You try to bring a little beauty to the world and you end up killing something.”
The final back-breaking straw comes in the form of the lawyer his wife hired to fuck him over during their divorce.
“You’re the one she’s fucking?”
“Not how I’d put it, Mr. Redbone – nobody gets fucked in my house.”
“Nobody besides me, I guess.”
When a man’s had enough, he’s had enough. There are many things bourbon can fix but this seemingly isn’t one of them.
In Calvin G. Redbone Matt Phillips has created a character Jim Thompson would have been proud of and that ain’t no shit either. The pressure builds and builds inside the man’s head until the release valve blows its top and the tiny town of Bumblefuck Nowhere is swept away in his new-born rage. Armed with his trusty Louisville Slugger, Calvin is left with little choice but to do what must be done to set things straight again. So that’s just what he does.
Apparently the author’s favourite bourbon is Wild Turkey and it’s mine too. Why? Because that’s what Hunter S. used to drink and if it’s good enough for the doctor, then it’s good enough for me.
‘Redbone is out now through Number Thirteen Press.

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