Author: Paul Adam Levy
Read Type: Indie published
You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US
You can find out more about the author on his blog
Skive is a black comedy that follows a man's downward spiral into insanity as he runs away from his problems by living rough on the streets of London.
A story of depression, hopelessness and masculinity told via the perspective of our hero with a self loathing wit. Will he find peace in London's alleyways? Or are the streets filled with the same problems he was looking to escape from?
Strong language: Throughout
Drugs: Few vague references
Sexual content: Some, mainly fade to black type
I was gifted a free copy of this novel by the author.
This wasn’t my usual type of book, but the excerpt sent to me had me instantly hooked. It felt fresh and imaginative on the subject of a hum-drum life.
I’d often imagine, maybe even hope, that I was the last man on earth walking the streets of an abandoned city. I’d live in that big furniture store just off the North Circular and prepare tinned rations in make believe kitchens and sleep in bedrooms without walls. I’d wander around the lonely towns in a thousand pound suit and try on equally expensive lingerie just for kicks. I’d be ruler of this wasteland. A king with a subject of one. And I’d be happy.
The book is in first person, seen through the eyes of the protagonist. He is an unusual character, that even at the end of the book I couldn't be certain as to who he was or where he fit in society.
A man run into the ruts of life?
A man hiding from himself?
A little boy in a man's body?
A Buddha in the wrong country?
Just a man, living his own variation of the world-wide problems.
This soda task was far too epic for 6.30am. I’d only been awake for two hours. I still had hopes, dreams and self-respect swimming around my head. I needed to knock myself down to a self-hating drone with all the fight chiselled away.
This man begins the novel in a shop warehouse job an living in a poor flat. Soon, through decisions largely his own, possibly exaggerations, possibly self preservation, he's out on the street with no idea how to survive. He meets various homeless, helpless, clueless and helpers who walk in and out of his life as he wanders. He floats from place to place, seemingly given up on increasing his status, on having to return to 9 to 5 life.
I savoured every moment of the nature around me: the wind through the bare trees, the damp cool air, ducks quacking and birds cooing. I couldn’t imagine growing tired of it. Maybe I would stay here forever, living off crumbs the elderly threw
Despite the almost jovial outtakes, the novel shows a gritty side to real life on the streets, the cold, the hunger, the bin searching, "Is 1 year out of date long life milk still ok to drink?". It shows the depression, most evident in the night, but also the freedom, in this particular case, the man felt, having not to worry about taxes and bills, those were for the houses whose bins he searched.
I would construct a shack out of wood and cover it with leaves and mud for shelter. I’d carve a seat out of a log and sit beside my humble abode in front of a raging fire and survey the scenery. I’d become legend and people from miles around would seek my advice on how to be free.
All through the book was a recurring theme of references to "eels" in his gut, signifying emotions in what I felt was a new and thought-provoking way. They covered anxiety, guilt, fear, emotional stresses of all kinds.
Stress pumped through his veins like lava and they throbbed to the rhythm of his erratic heartbeat in a way that only a lifetime of early starts and a severe coffee addiction could do to a mere mortal.
These references got darker and darker until eventually it seemed they may kill him.
The black cloud punched me in the heart, pumped my lungs full of smog and suffocated my soul with ash.
To end on a lighter note because, despite how this review may read in places it is not all doom and gloom, there is a lovely song woven throughout the novel.
Don't forget to smile today, show the world you're not scaredThere's no need to be so sad,You’re a woman now my dearA woman can flirt with being bad
This book was a fantastic metaphor for something I have yet to figue out, but also peeling away the layers we use to cover out lives, to give little things grace and meaning. It really captivated me.
There are bouts of copious swearing, and sections of sexual references throughout, so this book is not for your niece, but I feel a real eye opener for the rest of the population
And easy 5 stars