Bookshots: 'Waste' by Andrew F. Sullivan
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
Who wrote it?
First-time novelist Andrew F. Sullivan
Plot in a Box:
A couple of drunk Canadian kids hit and kill a lion with their car. While they struggle with the miseries of their normal lives, they are also slowly being hunted by a very bad man who is very upset about losing his lion.
Invent a new title for this book:
Read this if you liked:
The book actually reminded me a lot of Little Bastards in Springtime.
Meet the books lead(s):
Jamie works in a slaughterhouse and pops a truly astonishing amount of painkillers while still remaining conscious. He’s trying to be less terrible than his own father to his little girl, but it's surprisingly difficult to be a good parent.
Moses leads a small crew of wannabe skinheads with shitty ballpoint-pen swastikas. They aren’t really racist, just angry at the crap world they have to live in. Despite his tough talk, Moses is very sweet and caring to his mentally unstable mother.
Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:
Jamie would be played by Devon Sawa, and while he’s probably too old for the role now, I envisioned Moses as a young Matthew Lillard.
Setting: Would you want to live there?
The Larkhill, Ontario of 1989 is presented as a decaying urban nightmare populated with damaged people doing heinous things to each other while they await an inevitably terrible death. I’ll pass.
What was your favorite sentence?
They play music while they cut you open, did you know that, Jamie? A scalpel is just another instrument for them. Only in the right hands does it ever play true. Nobody wants to say they got fucked up by a violin. I don’t, at least. Not by a symphony.
As I think back on what I read, that classic Smashing Pumpkins lyric kept playing in my head: “The world is a vampire…” That’s almost literally true in Waste. Larkhill is a city full of the damaged children of broken parents doing deplorable things to each other. Society has failed them. Most of them aren’t really bad kids, they’re just trying to live in a very shitty situation with no help or support. Jamie wants to be a good father to his daughter, but with no idea of what that means, he’s only better than his own father by virtue of being present. Moses does everything he can to take care of his mother, who is the mental equivalent of a child after a head injury, but being trapped in such a hopeless situation only magnifies his misdirected anger and frustration. Even the men hunting them are just a pair of violent bastards who were raised by an even more violent bastard. The title no doubt refers to all the lives and potential that go to waste as an indifferent, and oftentimes downright hostile world grinds them down. It’s a well-written and very enthralling read, but there are no happy endings or even the faintest glimmer of hope here. Waste is an insightful gut-punch to the soul for any reader tough enough to take it.
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