Wednesday 8 April 2015


4.5 out of 5 stars

Violent drama, football hooliganism

On Amazon UK HERE 

The blurb:
Forty. Receding pate. Dental problems. Failing marriage. Delinquent son. Psycho boss parachuted in to cut the big earners.
A few lost marbles.
It hadn't always been like this.
He used to be a Face. A Player. A Terrace Celebrity. Now he’s just another faceless nobody on the brink of despair in a world he no longer recognises.
Yet, one freezing winter’s day, a chance meeting with a face from the old days at Notts County changes everything.
Especially when there’s an intriguing proposition on the table. One he may find difficult to refuse. 

I know nothing about and have zero interest in football, and the culture of organised football hooliganism fascinates me only in a horrified sort of way, but having recently read Mark Barry's fabulous Once Upon A Time In The City of Criminals I wanted to know more, so I chose to read this, his most successful book to date.

Something I've noticed after reading a book I've loved is that I can't always remember if it was written in the first or third person.  This is, I think, because the characters have come alive to the extent that I've been able to see inside their heads, whether their tale has been told in their own words or not.  Ultra Violence, however, has set a new standard.  It's written in the SECOND person, yet I still felt I knew the unnamed main character as well as if he'd told the story himself, or if I'd had it narrated to me.  Yes, that's right, a whole novel written in the second person, and it works so well.  A curious and clever choice and yet another indication of the talent of Mr Barry, who is fast becoming my favourite 'indie' of all those I've read.

Ultra Violence is depressing, it's sad, it made me feel fed up about how different things were in my own youth, it tells of the unsavoury, the prejudiced, the lacking in culture, the unwashed underclass of society (the Bullys!) and those who've wrecked their own lives, but I couldn't put it down.  The story alternates between the past and the present all the way through, until they meet at the end, a structure I always find effective.  Fabulous ending, too.  I love a great ending. I gather in the new edition there are two alternatives, but, alas, I had the old one on my Kindle.

Oh, and I still think the main character is a closet homosexual, by the way.  So closet he couldn't admit it to himself, perhaps.  Don't know if anyone else agrees with me.  From about fifty per cent in I was waiting for the Big Reveal....


CARLA by Mark Barry reviewed HERE

THE NIGHT PORTER by Mark Barry reviewed HERE 


  1. I'm afraid I struggle with depressing books, but I know Mark is a great writer.

    1. I wouldn't suggest this as an introduction to his work unless you're particularly interested in the subject matter, Rosie, but even though it's depressing in places it's also a total page turner :)

  2. Oh I loved this pleased you did too Terry. It's just so very clever....

    1. Georgia, I was dead pleased, Mark tells me I was right about the closet gay thing!!!!! I was glad it wasn't just me, after all :) It was the way in which he liked their feminine attributes in an aesthetic way only, liked skinny women with no tits but basically seemed to be repulsed by many of them.... there might have been other bits I missed, but I remembered when he met Rita there was a hint of a fear ... an 'other thing'...!

      Yes - very very clever indeed. I couldn't believe how well the 2nd person thing worked!

  3. No, it wasn't just you - haha! It was the shopping and labels as well I thought!!

    1. Yeah! After a while it stopped being just a fashion conscious guy and started to be a bit... well... !!

      I think some people perhaps start to read it and think "no, this is weird, 2nd person, I won't like it" without waiting to see if they actually DO.... after a while I didn't even notice it anymore, did you?

    2. No I didn't, I actually thought it suited this type of writing perfectly, gave it a real hard direct edge. Think I'd find it exhausting writing like that though!

  4. Also I'd read other things where people hadn't liked the 2nd person at all but I thought it was terrific.

  5. Sounds right up my dark alley as well!