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On David Peace’s “Nineteen Seventy-Seven.”

Deeply unpleasant but ultimately satisfying read. I can’t imagine that folks would go straight to Nineteen Seventy-Seven without reading Nineteen Seventy-Four first, so prospective readers would already be familiar with Peace prose:

The clipped, staccato rhythms.

Hypnotic in their repetition.

In their repetition.

The refusal to connect the narrative dots for the reader.

Words spat out like bullets from a machine gun etc.

Unpleasant: the torrents of profanity, the racism and misogyny, not to mention explicit violence, are relentless and punishing and not for the squeamish.

But satisfying: it’s nonetheless a hell of a page-turning read. Peace packs tension in between the lines, even in the most ordinary sequences (like in the many scenes of copious drinking). The reader’s patience for the damaged and obsessive protagonists is arguably tested by their tendency towards melodramatic torment — there’s an awful lot of drunken tears and suicidal self-pity, even more than characters in a James Ellroy novel — but the book on the whole is well worth the effort. Just don’t be surprised if you want to start viewing cute puppy videos on YouTube after reading the book just to shake the bleakness and grime off.

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