Friday, 5 February 2016

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#10]


This interview is one that I have been wanting to do for a while. I had the great pleasure of meeting this fantastic writer towards the end of last year and he is an absolutely wonderful human being, true Salt of the Earth. His debut novel, Billy and the Devil, has received unanimous praise from all who have read it and his second novel, The Gospel According to Johnny Bender, is due out later this year...

First things first, what's your name, where do you come from, and what do you do?


Dean Lilleyman. Born in Sheffield, grew up in Chesterfield, moved to a farm near a wood, now live in a village near the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border. I write novels.




For the few people reading this interview who have not yet read your debut novel Billy and the Devil, tell them a little about it...

Well, it’s the story of Billy, who we watch from kid to thirties. Downwards he goes as the drink takes hold. It’s a splitter. Some people get it. Some people don’t like it. It doesn’t hold back on the messy stuff. But, it’s tender too I think. Like I say, a splitter.

With th
e story being partially autobiographical, and Billy being such an unsavoury character, do you ever worry that people will automatically assume that Billy and Dean are one and the same?

I used to be quite uncomfortable about that idea, when I first started putting Billy together. Luckily, a mix of my own bloody-mindedness and having a circle of good people around me saying yes, do it, saw me write it as I intended. Now I see it like this: if you read it and think everything real, then I’ve done my job. Some things happened, some things might have happened. Some things got bent to suit the story. Some things were heard, seen, borrowed. And, of course, what if? When I first started sending it out to literary agents, I got one rejection back saying they thought it ‘too real’. Funny.

There has always been a kind of romanticised relationship between writing and booze. Many famous writers were noted alcoholics and for good or ill that is often celebrated. However I believe writing is actually one of the things that helped you off the booze, is that correct?

For sure. It felt like I was taking the bad stuff out, stuff I didn’t quite understand, jam-jarring it up, sticking it on a shelf. I think writing, reading, picking stories apart, filled the hole where the drink had been. I worked like a madman. Still do. And yes, that ‘romanticised relationship’ you mention. I think it’s just that. And, you know, sure there’s been some very important art made under the influence, but there’s the other side to it too. Hemingway shot himself in the head. Fitzgerald and Kerouac died too young and fucked up sick. Anne Sexton took herself into a garage and gassed herself with a running car. And on it goes, a massive list of sad nasty ends. I was watching a Bowie documentary the other night, and he said how important it was when he realised the strength of his writing when he wasn’t fucked up. And that’s the point. I think it’s a mistake to believe the stereotype. It’s you that makes what you make, not the drug. Trust yourself.

Billy and the Devil was published last year by Urbane Publications, who seem to be red hot at the moment, how did you hook up with them?

Matthew Smith, who runs Urbane, contacted me and said he’d bumped into my website. On the back of that he’d read a copy of the self-published version of Billy, and would I like to meet up for a chat. To be honest, I was quite hesitant at first. After a few let-downs I’d got into a place where I was determined to do everything myself. But, after a couple of phone natters with Matthew, I went to meet him in London. I got good vibes off him pretty quick. His buzz with Billy was very real. As were his ideas of publishing. No aloof boss nonsense. He uses what he knows, his experience and savvy, the writer chucks their end in, mix it up in a bucket, go. I tend to have an Achilles twitch with business people, in that everything usually feels forky-tongued, don’t trust it. I didn’t feel that with Matthew. He seemed no different to me, in that the making comes first. I was chatting with Sophie and Jim at Hand Job Zine the other day, about getting off your arse and doing it yourself. Their angle was ‘the more of these things that happen the more of a happening there becomes’. I think that’s the truth, right there. It’s too easy to have one crack at something, not quite get what you wanted, quit. William Burroughs once used the phrase ‘enlightened interdependence’. I like that idea. Join these things together with Hubert Selby Jr’s epiphany of one short turn around the wheel so make, work hard, make, and that’s where I’m at. I think there’s an essence of all these things with how Urbane works. Absolutely the indie publisher to watch.

I know you are a big fan of Raymond Carver and he was a big influence on you, what other writers are favourites of yours?


Roald Dahl’s short stories were a recent wow for me. Very dark and spicy. Unpredictable. Sharp. Clever. And I love how Lars von Trier puts his demons into a story-world, vulnerable and exposed. Proper genius, misunderstood. Henry Miller too. Said things the way he wanted to say them. Nearly had to have my jaw wired after stumbling into his Tropics books a couple of years ago. Beautiful fuck-riddled poetry in prose. And definitely Sylvia Plath. What a heartbreaker. Said the unsayable, put her black dog onto the page in a way that brings it right into the room. Sexy, defiant, broken, absolutely brilliant. Dylan Thomas for sure. The music he made. The way he put words against each other. The pacing of his lines. Under Milk Wood an absolute favourite, big influence. It boggles to think where he would’ve gone from there. Another maker for that list of sad nasty ends. I have other favourites too. Lots. I tend to get compass from all sorts of making, I think. Tracey Emin’s sassy. Anton Newcombe’s drive. Diane Arbus’s eye for beautiful ugly. I’m very fond of makers that go their own way, stay true to it, whichever way it bends.

Picture the scene: Some hotshot TV exec calls you up and says that they want to adapt Billy into a three part mini series, what do you say?

Yes. But Lars von Trier directs, and Charlotte Gainsbourg is Billy’s wife. I get to be Billy, of course.




I caught you perform a snippet from Billy at the Hand Job Zine launch last year. You were phenomenal and had the crowd eating out of the palm of your hand. Most writers don't have that kind of stage presence, was it something that came naturally to you or a case of practise makes perfect?

Ta Martin. Well, I started reading out several years ago at uni, and because I was so nervous I think my fight or flight kicked in, and it all came out my mouth quite brassy. Luckily it seemed to suit Billy. Then a little later, I did some gigs with my mates Sam and Steve, them playing guitars while I strutted about doing Billy. We haven’t done Billy the musical for quite a while now, but I still carry a blob of mojo from it in my back-pocket when I perform. Practise, yes, but perhaps not too much, just enough to be able to relax into it and get a buzz off the gig.

Speaking of Hand Job Zine, you have appeared in a number of their issues, along with my zine PAPER AND INK, the mighty PUSH and others. Why do you think these self published lo-fi fanzines are so popular at the moment?

Paper and Ink, Push, Hand Job, are absolutely vital. They fill the space between publications that won’t publish you if your character says fuck and publications that broadcast edgy yet won’t publish you if your character says fuck. I use the word fuck here for several words, words that many people use in real life but don’t seem to exist in certain realms of publication. I also use the word fuck in the sense that fuck can be a spit of frustration at all this, and the stuff that Paper and Ink, Push, Hand Job print, seems also to be a frustration against this. Of course, it’s a matter of taste. But I’m entirely with Bukowski on this point, ‘beware those quick to censure, they are afraid of what they do not know,’ and I want to know. Which is why Paper and Ink, Push, Hand Job, are absolutely vital. And anyway, the new comes from the outside, not the in.

Your second novel, The Gospel According to Johnny Bender, comes out later this year, again from Urbane Publications, what can you tell us about it?

I can tell you I’m really happy with it. It all takes place in the span of one day. A village carnival in 1979, and 1999. Johnny Bender, the village outsider, narrates, takes us around the place, introduces us to the characters, tells us some riddled truths like a modern day Shakespearean fool. There’s a love story or two, a murder-mystery, a ghost story, some fuckery, all with a Hitchcock thriller taste, I think. Think Kafka doing Under Milk Wood, ish. It’s different to Billy, but there’s definitely a dialogue between the two.


I have always been drawn to stories that take place within the space of twenty four hours, so that premise really excites me. I think crafting a compelling story arc and well rounded characters within that time restriction takes a great deal of skill. Was that challenge something you thought about or did the premise develop naturally?

It was definitely something I thought about, but it also developed itself. I write in my loft, and the whole thing began as mad scribbles on my ceiling. It felt an easy way to collect ideas. I didn’t always know why I scribbled what I did, what relevance it had, but I scribbled it anyway. Before long the entire ceiling was a scrapbook of madness. Possible character ideas, songs, happenings, quotes, images, a place, instincts, things. The idea of time came from seventies disco lyrics. There seemed to be a theme. Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow’s not here, only now now now so let’s do it. When I sat back and looked at the whole it started to make weird sense. Then I spent a while translating it all onto paper, giving it a loose shape. One day, one place, everyone trapped within. Then I painted over the ceiling, rewrote what I wanted to carry forward, and started adding more stuff. The idea of time felt very important, the end of things. So I began reading stuff about that. The Book of Revelation, Nostradamus, the idea of history repeating, of what if ends were beginnings, on and on? And this, believe it or not, is where the disco came back into it. One record ends, another begins. “It’s the same old song, but with a different meaning since you been gone.” So, two days, twenty years apart, made into one day, same characters, happenings echoing off each other to make one story. I painted over the ceiling again. Rewrote it as chapter bones, left space for accidents, wrote the novel off it, called it The Gospel According to Johnny Bender, because it is.

Now that you have two novels under your belt and an ever expanding fanbase, what's next for Mr Lilleyman?

A third novel. I’m on it now. Very buzzed about it. And after that, another. Don’t stop.

Thanks for answering these questions Dean, and best of luck with the new novel.

Keep up to date with all things Dean Lilleyman on his website or on Twitter, read excerpts from Billy and the Devil in both issues #6 and #7 of PAPER AND INK, and buy the novel itself directly from Urabne Publications.  

Thursday, 28 January 2016

I READ ZINES [#11]




This is two reviews in one, which I don't usually do, but they're both made my the same person - that person being Kate Berwanger; writer, photographer, and all round creative mastermind. I found these on Etsy and thought they looked so beautiful that I had to buy them and, by chance, it turned out that I already followed Kate on Instagram. Each of these zines contains a short story by Kate, both tales of toxic relationships, both wonderfully written, both mesmerising and harrowing at the same time. The zines themselves are even more beautiful in the flesh than in the photographs. Delicate and precious and printed on a lovely paper stock. Buy them via Etsy.



This third issue of lit zine The Fractured Nuance was released to coincide with National Handwriting Day (which was on Jan 23rd, if you didn't know). As you have probably guessed, each piece inside the issue is handwritten, each one by its individual contributor. I think this is a terrific idea and I wish I had thought of it for PAPER AND INK. The pieces inside the issue are varied, from contributors the world over; short stories, flash fiction, poems, illustrated pieces, long and short. The eclectic feel, along with all the different handwriting styles make the zine feel very intimate and personal. The only slight problem that I found was due to difficulty in reading some of the handwriting. Writers are not known for having the best handwriting, I think we're up there with Doctors in that sense. However it was rewarding to stick with it and decipher the difficult bits. Buy it right here.



This is a fun little zine from writer F J McQueen. A satirical comic strip style zine with an old school cut and paste aesthetic. I would attempt to explain the story in a succinct sentence or two, but I don't think I would do it justice. I will just say that it involves The Pope, Embryos, and soul smuggling, amongst other things...

"Outside, life was hard. To earn money they undertook UNBORN PEOPLE TRAFFICKING IN BAGS OF FROZEN PEAS... IN BAGS OF PETIT POIS IF YOU PAID MORE" 

You will have to read it to believe it, and I highly recommend you do so. It is only £3.50 including postage, just email Faustine McQueen at moxycasimir0@gmail.com



The first three issues of Wonderlust Literary Zine were great, and I even had a short story published in the third one, however this fourth issue is by far and away the best one yet. It would seem counter intuitive to say different, but it is true. I genuinely fell head over heels in love with the words inside this zine. A glorious mixture of emotions experienced as I turned each age.

Highlights include The Dark by Shelby Traynor, Witch Night by Fanni Suto, poetry by PJ Carmichael and Tom Buron, The Same Picture by Jenn Johnson, Funeral of a Foe by Graham Old was a harrowing story and difficult to read but fantastic writing, Park Slope by Maria NG, We Are Not Snowflakes, We Are Barcodes by Jason Bates, The Historian by Jodie Matthews and Eulogy For A Dive Bar by Krystle Ratticus.

There are zines that I read and enjoy that I know I will probably never read again, but there are zines like this one that I will read again and again, and you should too. Buy one via Etsy or Nine Lives Zine Distro.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

BOOK REVIEW: BEING WITH ME WILL HELP YOU LEARN BY THOMAS McCOLL



Being With Me Will help You Learn is a collection of poetry and flash fiction from writer Thomas McColl and is the first publication from fledgling London press Listen Softly London. Listen Softly is the brainchild of Dominic Stevenson and began life as a spoken word night. Having decided to branch out into the world of the printed word, they honestly could not have picked a better place to start than with the work of Mr McColl; An intelligent, thought provoking, no nonsense writer that you can't help but be charmed by.

I first came across Thomas' work in the literary fanzine and cultural phenomenon that is PUSH and have since had the honour of publishing one of his flash fiction pieces in my own lit zine PAPER AND INK. The acknowledgements section in the back of this book reads like a who's who of contemporary lit mags; Thomas has been published everywhere from The Rue Bella to Open Pen. Having devoured the book in just one sitting, I firmly understand why his work has been so widely recognised; It is snappy and concise and presents the reader with scenes and scenarios that make you think, laugh and cry all at the same time. The book is packed full of wonderful, intricate observations of day to day life that sit perfectly alongside mesmerising dystopian mind melters.

I almost regret polishing this book off so quickly. It is like when you are eating a really delicious pizza, you wolf it down in a matter of minutes then immediately wish that you had taken the time to savour it. Either way, whether you read it in one fell swoop or dip in and out of it whenever you have a free moment, Being With Me Will Help You Learn is a must read collection and gets two big thumbs up from me!

Grab a copy right now from Listen Softly London.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

10 AWESOME ALBUMS OF 2015

DISCLAIMER:  1. This list is in no particular order. 2. I am not a music critic, I am a music fan. 3. If you do not agree with my opinions, good.


FRANK TURNER - POSITIVE SONGS FOR NEGATIVE PEOPLE

I'll just get this one out of the way straight off the bat. Anyone who follows this blog or knows me at all will know I am a big fan of Mr. Turner. I have seen the bloke live eight times in the last three years and that figure will probably double in the next three. As for the new album, I wasn't as instantaneously enamoured with it as I was his last two (England Keep My Bones and Tape Deck Heart), but it has definitely grown on me. The sound feels much bigger than anything he has done before and a little too polished for my taste. There are songs on it that I absolutely love and a couple that I just can't get into at all. That said, even given my mixed feelings, I would still listen to this over 99% of all other music released this year.

Favourite songs: Get Better, Out of Breath, Love Forty Down


DUCKING PUNCHES - FIZZY BRAIN

Another cracking album from Dan Allen and Ducking Punches. Their last album Dance Before You Sleep is one that I still listen to regularly and Fizzy Brain feels like a seamless and natural progression of their sound. They have recently been signed by Xtra Mile Records, which is a great achievement for a British DIY folk punk band and I am over the moon for them. There is not a harder working band out there, they tour non-stop and Dan is a lovely bloke (and also a sick illustrator - he does all their album covers and also did the cover for PAPER AND INK Issue #3 last year). Frustratingly I am still yet to see them live and if I have one music related goal for 2016 it is to rectify that as soon as possible!

Favourite songs: Greedy Bones, JFH, God Damn Coward

SAM RUSSO - GREYHOUND DREAMS

I must admit, I am a little bit late to the Sam Russo party. I had heard his name banded around a bit over the last few years but never actually listened to any of his stuff until this album came out. What a fool I was. After listening to just two tracks from this album I was firmly aboard the Sam Russo bandwagon and immediately went about tracking down his debut 2012 album Storm. Storm is a classic heart break record; raw and emotional and fucking brilliant. Greyhound Dreams has the same raw edge to it, but is a little more hopeful. Russo packs so much emotion into every song and delivers lines that hit you like a sledgehammer.

Favourite songs: Sometimes, Crayfish Tales, Runaways


GREAT CYNICS - I FEEL WEIRD

Another confession I have to make is that, again, I had never listened to Great Cynics until this album came out. I just have this tendency to avoid things that everyone raves about. Like, If some singer or band are labelled hot shit then my immediate thought is "Pfft I bet they suck" and I won't bother checking them out. I don't know, I'm weird man. Which brings me nicely to this album! Again, I was a fool to avoid Great Cynics and I can only apologise to them but mainly to my ears for depriving them of this super good DIY pop punk awesomeness. This is such a fun album packed full of sing-a-long anthems for weirdos!

Favourite songs: From The Creators Of Love Actually, Everyone's A Little Bit Weird, Lost In You

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - KINTSUGI

For a long many years I considered Death Cab to be my favourite band. From first hearing their album Transatlanticism in 2003 (which is still one of all my times favourites) through to their terrific 2005 album Plans, and Narrow Stairs in 2008, I was hooked. By the time their 2011 album Codes & Keys came out my music tastes had changed slightly that album did very little for me. Singer Ben Gibbard's 2012 solo album Former Lives didn't really inspire me either, so I had very low expectations for Kintsugi. The fact that it is in this list tells you that I was pleasantly surprised by it. It will never be up there with my favourite DCFC albums but it is a solid album with some great songs on it.

Favourite songs: The Ghosts of Beverley Drive, Little Wanderer, Good Help (Is So Hard To Find)

EFA SUPERTRAMP - RHYDDID YW Y FREUDDWYD

Efa Supertramp is a Welsh folk punk singer songwriter with a kick ass raspy voice and songs full of piss and vinegar. I have been following Efa for a few years now, after discovering her via the joys of punk zines, and I have been waiting for this album with very high expectations. Needless to say I was not disappointed. Even though half of the songs are in Welsh and I have no idea what they are about, that just tells you how highly I rate this album! There is 1000% more passion and honesty in these songs than in any of the commercial trite money grabbing bullshit that pollutes our televisions and radios these days, and I can't wait to hear what Efa does next. 

Favourite songs: Do Anything For Money, All My Friends Are Freedom Fighters, Candle Light

LAURA MARDON - ONE WEEK RECORD

This album, as the title suggests, was recorded in one week and released on Joey Cape's One Week Records. Laura Mardon is a singer songwriter from Australia, and not only does she have an absolutely beautiful voice, but she is a damn fine songwriter (and as an aside, also a very talented artist). This album just totally mesmerised me from the first song to the last. Normally I can put an album on for background noise and do other things, but not this one. Whenever I put this on in the background I end up just sitting and listening to it, and if that isn't a sign of quality, I don't know what is.

Favourite songs: Hail Hail The Dead Can Dance, Falling Fallen, Apologies Apologies     


MISCHIEF BREW - THIS IS NOT FOR CHILDREN


Mischief Brew are just a fucking fun band to listen to and I am so so happy that they are playing Rebellion Festival next year, as I have never seen them live and as fun as their recordings are, I imagine their live shows would be fucking killer. As for this album, it is rad! Their last LP, The Stone Operation, I fell in love with immediately and this, to me, just feels like an extension of that album. They don't change their style up very much, but like that old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Mischief Brew definitely don't need to fix anything, except maybe getting in the studio more often: I don't want to wait another four years for the next album!

Favourite songs: Bad Heart, Squatter Envy, Slow Death Hymn

LEFTOVER CRACK - CONSTRUCTS OF THE STATE

If waiting four years for a new Mischief Brew album was bad, then imagine waiting eleven years for a new Leftover Crack album! Alas, all I can do is imagine as I didn't get into Leftover Crack until after I got into Star Fucking Hipsters which is kind of arse about face, but whatevs. I love their 2004 album Fuck World Trade and I love this album too, but it actually reminds me more of Star Fucking Hipsters than it does Leftover Crack, which is kind of weird. Regardless, it is a great album that gets my lefty anarcho punky blood pumping!

Favourite songs: Don't Shoot, System Fucked, The Lie Of Luck



WAR ON WOMEN - SELF-TITLED

I. FUCKING. LOVE. THIS. ALBUM. As far as I am concerned there are not enough feminist hardcore bands out there at the moment. Maybe there are and I just haven't heard them, I don't know. I am pretty excited about British hardcore band Petrol Girls and hopefully they will release a full length next year, but anyway, I digress. This album is just a complete fucking punch in the throat, in the best possible way, and for a large chunk of this year was my go to album to listen to when I had to walk to work at 7am on a Saturday morning.

Favourite songs: Say It, Swagger, Jordan

Sunday, 15 November 2015

THE INK IN MY SKIN, WHERE THE NEEDLE WENT IN

I realised recently that I have not written a blog post that wasn't about zines or literature in forever. Or, like, since May, when I wrote about a gig in my shitty town. Anyway, I decided that it was about time I wrote about something the fuck else, so here I am with a post about tattoos. Tattoos that I have and tattoos that I want. Because who doesn't love tattoos?!? Exactly. No one. Well... Plenty of people probably don't, but fuck those people, they're idiots.

Anyway, as you may or may not know I did not lose my tattoo virginity until last August at the ripe old age of 27. I got a line from an Against Me! song on the outside of my right forearm and it looks little something like this...



They say that you never just get one tattoo. That shit is addictive. You get one, and then you get another, and another and another, and so on. Well, I have had a pretty tight year, financially speaking, so I did not jump back on the bandwagon immediately. I had to wait over a year, but in September, I set Luke loose on my arm once again. This time on the inside of my right forearm. This time another music related tattoo. This time not Against Me! but Frank motherfucking Turner...


"Worse Things Happen At Sea" is the title of one of my favourite Frank songs (it is also a pretty damn good expression), the anchor was a design that I pilfered from Google image search which Luke customised, and the FTHC bit at the top is Frank's logo (The HC stands for hardcore). That logo hurt like a motherbitch. I assumed that the wrist would hurt the most but nope. When I got my first tattoo it was the end nearest the elbow which hurt the most too. Apparently I have weak elbows or something.

I already have ideas for my next two and hope it won't be a year until I can get them done. Next, I want a Jason Voorhees. Again on my forearm, this time on the top. What I want is a simplified, flash style version of the cover image from Friday The 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter. Because it is my favourite Jason movie and, well, it looks badass. I spent almost a whole day scouring the depths of the internet to find examples of what I wanted but came up short. That is, until I stumbled across an old flash sheet of Luke's from 2013 on Facebook and it contained exactly what I want...


After Jason I then want a Bukowski tattoo. I know this post wasn't going to be about literature, but apparently everything always comes back to literature. I have always wanted a Bukowski tattoo of some description but the problem is that I can't decide exactly what to get. Do I get one of my favourite quotes, or a line from a poem, or a visual interpretation of a favourite poem? The truth is that I will probably end up with all of those things at some stage, but first of all what I want is a design based on Buk's headstone...


The "Don't Try" refers to creativity. If you want to do something, don't think about it, don't talk about it, DO IT. I don't know if Buk was a fan of Star Wars (probably not) but it also has pangs of the Yoda quote "Do or do not. There is no try". I like that and it very much echoes the DIY punk ethos that I try to live by. The boxer part. I don't know what that meant to Bukowski exactly, but to me, I love boxing and whilst I have never laced up a pair of gloves myself I am big admirer of those that do.

I could probably come up with a million and one other things that I want to get. I want an R2D2. I want Black Flag bars. I want a little black cat. I want something to do with zines and PAPER AND INK. I want a little pizza slice. I want "Meet me in Montauk". And of course there is the one I have been talking about for years... The knuckle tattoos. I always said that I would get MEAT FREE tattooed on my knuckles to celebrate 10 years of being vegetarian. Well, that year is now but I don't think I am ready for knuckle tattoos just yet. Maybe that will be a 15 year celebration. Pretty much nobody I have ever told about that one have thought it was a good idea. Knuckle tattoos are typically detrimental to your job prospects, I know, but the thing is... I really don't give a fuck. I work a shitty job, I make zines and I write. When I am fifty I will still be working shitty jobs, making zines and writing. If somebody doesn't want to employ me because I am an arrogant vegetarian who wears his heart on his sleeve then, my friend, that ain't the job for me anyway.

I will probably get another Frank Turner tattoo as well. Possibly the line "Life is too short to live without poetry", possibly "I am disappeared", possibly something else, probably all of the above. It was actually something Frank said at one of his shows that made me finally get off my arse and get my first tattoo. He was talking about a recent tattoo that he'd had done and said that to him, people that don't get tattoos are like the people that leave the plastic wrapping on their new furniture. I didn't want to be one of those people.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

BOOK REVIEW: BURRITO DELUXE BY JOSEPH RIDGWELL



Have you ever wanted to disappear? To drop everything in the blink of an eye and escape? To start afresh in a new, exotic locale? To step out of the rat race once and for all and truly experience the endless possibilities that the world has to offer? – To hell with the soul sapping nine to five, to hell with all the hollow, plastic technology that you have surrounded yourself with, to hell with the trivialities and mundane existence of day to day life – I know I have and I am sure you have, too. And that is exactly what the two main characters in Burrito Deluxe decided to do, and they never looked back.

The hero of Burrito Deluxe is the eponymous Joseph Ridgwell, who along with his best mate Ronnie, decide to ditch their dead end life in the East End of London and hop on a flight bound for Mexico.

For many middle class youngsters growing up in the UK, a no expense spared trip around the Americas paid for by the bank of mummy and daddy is a common occurrence, but for two working class council estate kids things don’t come so easy. Joseph and Ronnie have to beg, borrow and quite literally steal to gather together the capital that will necessitate their dreams. Their plan is to get enough cash together to see them by for a year in Central and South America before moving on to Australia to find work and continue their adventure. Of course, things don’t quite go to plan and once in Mexico their excessive lust for partying and the never ending search for the Lost Elation means they are soon running out of cash. Queue more hair brain get rich quick schemes as they scratch and claw with fervent desperation to stay on the road, but to what lengths are they willing to go to to avoid going back home?

Anyone familiar with the previous work of Joseph Ridgwell will know exactly what to expect from Burrito Deluxe – a highly tuned and refined prose combined with excellent comic timing. The story zips along at break neck speed and you will find yourself laughing and crying from one page to the next. The character of Ronnie is an interesting one, the comparison of him being the Dean Moriarty to Joseph’s Sal Paradise is easy to make, but none the less an accurate one. Ronnie is very self assured, full of piss and vinegar, and the young Ridgwell will follow him to the end of the world. However, by the end of the novel you get the feeling that the characters have both evolved and that they are no longer necessarily heading down the same path.

Burrito Deluxe is a highly entertaining road novel that will at the very least leave you with a severe case of wanderlust, and will hopefully garner Joseph Ridgwell the notoriety that his talent deserves. Special mention has to go to the astounding front cover design – A woodcut from Southern Californian artist Jose Arroyo – in my humble opinion never before has a cover so accurately captured the spirit and essence of a novel so perfectly. Viva la Mexico!

The official book launch is happening tomorrow night in Leith, so if you're in the area you'd a be a fool to miss it. If not, you grab a copy online from Leamington Books.