Focusing on how a fresh-out-of-prison man copes and slowly re-adjusts to life on the outside,
The Hard Shoulder is an exceptional novel - and primarily enthralling for being both a
thriller and poignant drama.
O'Grady is the man who has been released from prison after ten years of hard time,
and on getting back out into the real world he soon finds that the fine art of making amends
with his estranged wife and daughter isn't going to be easy.
He realises that his marriage has no chance of being resolved, but O'Grady becomes
obsessed with patching things up with his now beautiful daughter, Lily.
Yet he thinks that the quickest way to her heart will be with a wad of money.
Problem is, O'Grady doesn't have any money. As the old 'once a con, always
a con' adage again proves true, he just can't resist getting into more trouble to secure some cash.
But is his love for Lily worth the risk?..
While the author Petit is great at depicting sharp and sudden scenes of violence
(that are never too gory, merely 'effective'), the charm of his work lies in the
fact that he's a keen observer of human nature and creates complex characters such as
O'Grady that the reader has no choice but to care about.
Far from being a stereotypical hard man, his O'Grady character teems with
regrets, doubts, hopes and fears. He is a real man, struggling to survive in the real
world, and a whole gamut of raw emotions are expertly exposed to stunning effect.
As for the classic end, it's an ominous knockout. The clever way that the very last
line of the novel has been written could mean one of two things: either that O'Grady
gets away with his latest scam and drives merrily away into the distance, or that
he gets no further than a tunnel approach.
I guess it depends on how much the reader has come to love or loathe or O'Grady
that is meant to determine the poor man's fate.
Whatever, this is a fantastic story from Chris Petit, who is a keen filmmaker
as well as novelist - and certainly a mighty writing talent to keep your eyes
peeled, and your shins readily padded, for.
ISBN 1-86207-529-8 (GRANTA; first published in 2001)
Reviews, Books - Running With The Moon by Jonny Bealby By Steve Rudd
I was the pebble in the catapult, pulled back to breaking point, about to be sent hurtling
towards whatever destiny had in store. Total freedom. At that moment I wouldn't have
changed places with anyone. That's how Jonny Bealby felt upon arriving in
Africa with his friend
Reviews, Books - David Bowie: Theatre of Music by Robert Matthew-Walker By Steve Rudd
Although this book was published way back in 1985, it still provides a fascinating insight
into David's personal life and his music up to such a point in time, giving a summary of
the circumstances around his birth and childhood before naturally progressing onto how
he first became interested
Reviews, Books - A Cold Day In Paradise by Steve Hamilton, By Steve Rudd
Steve Hamilton's incredibly exciting writing vibrantly blasts out of much
the same gun-toting gauntlet as Joe R Lansdale's writing, despite the fact
that both these American action-thriller novelists couldn't really live
farther apart from the other.
Lansdale lives and sets
Reviews, Books - The Goodbye People by Gavin Lambert, By Steve Rudd
Loneliness doesn't consist of not having friends. Loneliness has nothing to do with that! It's being unable to express your deepest feelings and most private thoughts.
This novel is one of my favourite pieces of fiction, with the author Lambert's fresh writing style zestfully
Reviews, Books - Cold In July by Joe R. Lansdale, By Steve Rudd
This Texan author is surely one of the hottest 'action-thriller' writers of his generation.
An expert in martial arts himself, his stories are always graced with superb plots and graphically
violent action set-pieces that he describes so well I would have thought movie producers in Hollywood
Reviews, Books - Big Sur by Jack Kerouac By Steve Rudd
It's the little things that count. On my deathbed I could be remembering that creek day and
forgetting the day MGM bought my book.
Another classic novel from Beat-generation master Kerouac, Big Sur brings the reader up
to speed on how the writer
Reviews, Books - Hemingway's Chair by Michael Palin By Steve Rudd
Bearing in mind that Michael Palin has literally travelled around the world and back (and them some),
you'd think that his debut novel might be, well, a little more exciting!
But far from setting it in hot-&-bothered LA or in and amongst the manic metropolis of Tokyo,
Reviews, Films - Catwoman UK Movie Premiere at Leicester Square, London Tuesday 3rd August By Steve Rudd
Ok, close your eyes, listen carefully and think hard. Where on earth can you see - and potentially -
meet the likes of Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt, Will Smith and David Hasselhoff
(no, seriously!) in the space of just two days?
I'll give you a clue if you haven't sussed it out already and
Reviews, Books - Roads by Larry McMurtry By Steve Rudd
Better known for his novel writing than his travel writing, Texan man McMurtry's
most famous works include the epic Western story of Lonesome Dove,
and the tear-jerking Terms Of Endearment and The Evening Star.
For much of his life he's been a keen collector of books
Reviews, Books - Silk Dreams, Troubled Road by Jonny Bealby, By Steve Rudd
The third and final travel book in a fascinating and most exhilarating trilogy, this
epic account follows Jonny across the mountains of heaven on the Old Silk Road, from
Kashgar to the Caspian Sea. Or thereabouts, given that the horses on which Jonny and
'friend' travel are often beset
Reviews, Theatre - Up 'n' Under at Hull Truck Theatre with Cast Interview 23/07/2004 By Andy Dykes
John Godber's play 'Up 'n' Under' has enjoyed widespread success for twenty years.
So it's obvious that the story, although I have to admit I don't really know it,
does not need to be reviewed.
So I realise that if this report is going to be of any worth at all, tonight
I need to review the performance.
Reviews, Books - Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke By Steve Rudd
The definition of grace is the ability to accept change.
I needed to start calculating my masculinity not by the amount of pussy I could grab,
or how many girls I could bang, but by how true I could be with one girl.
How infrequently I could lie. How often I could show up when I was needed.