The new novel from the Guardian Not the Booker-shortlisted author of Real Monsters
Longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize 2016
‘Compelling, chilling investigation into the dark instincts of masculinity’ — Guardian
‘…as intoxicating as home-distilled hooch.’ — Stephen May, Costa Novel Award-shortlisted author
‘…inventive, finely written and disturbing.’– Jim Crace, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author
When we moved into the wild, the wild moved into us.
When a troubled advertising salesman loses his job, the fragile wall between his public and private personas comes tumbling down. Fleeing his debtors, Adam abandons his family and takes to sleeping rough in a local park, where a fraternity of homeless men befriend him.
As the months pass, Adam gradually learns to appreciate the tough new regime, until winter arrives early, threatening to turn his paradise into a nightmare.
Starving, exhausted and sick of the constant infighting, Adam decides to return to his family. The men, however, have other plans for him. With time running out, and the stakes raised unbearably high, Adam is forced to question whether any of us can truly escape the wildness within.
Wow! This book took me by surprise!
Having absolutely LOVED this author’s previous book, Real Monsters, I was so excited when I recently discovered he’d written more books for me to feast my eyes on. Of course, having experienced Real Monsters, I really shouldn’t have been surprised by Wild Life. However, I completely fell into the whole successful, wealthy businessman overindulges with alcohol, drugs and gambling, walks out on his old life and leaves his family after being made redundant during the recession, and lives happily ever after in his new self-sufficient life in a park, growing his own veg and doing daily yoga. Oh what a comfortable ending that might have made.
I’m not a very materialistic person. I hate wasting money. I’m scared of taking financial risks. I’ve only just opened my very first ISA just before turning forty! Just reading about gambling raised my heart rate. I don’t like to borrow money, as owing money stresses me out, so I’ve always saved hard before buying things, except for getting a mortgage, which I’ve been paying back double the amount required every month for the last few years. So for me, I was bothered by the wasteful behaviour at the beginning of the book. Then I was satisfied by the idea of being completely self-sufficient and surviving without the need for money. This part of the story made me feel content and strangely comfortable, except for the running. I couldn’t do all that running!
Then shock horror! The story takes a sickeningly dark turn and it all begins with a swan. A beautiful bird. How can this be? I’ll never look at a swan in the same way again! Imagine if there was a sequel to Lord of the Flies, when the boys were all grown up. This could be it! Through two thought provoking novels, this author has shown how good he is at showing the truly dark side of human nature. A brutality we so often close our minds to in the hope of wishing it away, for fear of discovering it within ourselves or those close to us. As it’s not possible to read this book with your eyes closed, if you make it to the end of this book, consider your eyes very much open on this subject.
This book left me with such mixed emotions. I started off feeling quite proud of myself for being sensible with money. Then satisfied while I daydreamed of growing veg, collecting eggs from free range chickens and being at one with nature. Then I felt sick. Then I felt afraid. Then I felt angry and a dislike of human behaviour, especially violence and self-destructiveness was rapidly growing inside me.
I was out walking with my dog the other day, and there was some sort of reed grass growing in a couple of puddles. It looks a little out of place against all the broom and heather, but that grass has found a new home with the conditions that help it flourish. I’ve probably walked by that reed grass for years not even noticing it, but after reading this book I saw that grass and had an overwhelming feeling of respect for it. That grass is where it needs to be to grow strong. It is causing no harm to anything around it, and it’ll probably outlive the human race and deserves to. This book has got me considering whether nature is more intelligent than humans, or whether humans are too intelligent for their own good. Can I say whether this book made me feel good or bad? I’m not sure I can be sure, because my thoughts are a little messed up at the moment. Either way, this book got me thinking, that really deep kind of thinking. Oh, how I do love a book that does that to me.
Also, am I the only person who had Blur’s Parklife song going round and round in my head the whole time I was reading this?
I highly recommend Wild Life, as well as Real Monsters, which actually made it into my Top Ten Books in 2015.
I borrowed this book through Amazon Kindle Unlimited.
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