Garbage Man by Joseph D’Lacey
Shreve, a dead-end town next to the UK’s largest landfill.
There’s nothing the bored residents won’t stoop to in an attempt to spice up their pedestrian lives. All wannabe model Aggie Smithfield wants is to escape before Shreve swallows her ambition along with a million tons of rubbish and dirty little secrets.
Desperate, Aggie asks renowned but reclusive ex-photographer, Mason Brand, for help. The deal they make might be the only thing that can save her when the town’s fate catches up with it. Beneath everyone’s feet, something born of the things we throw away is awakening.
And when the past is reborn, there will be no escape.
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear before we go any further – Joseph D’Lacey does not do comfortable. I’ve read enough of his unique brand of eco-horror to know exactly what to expect when I crack open one of his books. A word of warning, if you’ve never experienced his writing before and you are particularly faint of heart, you may want to give Garbage Man a miss. This is not the book for you. D’Lacey leaves little to the imagination when his descriptive powers are running at full tilt. Personally speaking I absolutely love it. In fact I’m actually a little in awe of his work. I find the raw, often brutal, horror acts as a perfect counterpoint to the insightful social commentary you find in his writing.
In the 21st century it often feels like we live in a truly disposable society. Rather than have things fixed, more often than not, it is cheaper to just to ditch an item and buy a replacement. Technology is considered obsolete as soon as it’s available. There are so many of us out there living our lives that thousands upon thousands of tons of refuse are created every day. What happens when we finally reach a tipping point? What happens when Mother Earth decides that it’s time to start fighting back? What happens when our environment can no longer effectively sustain us? Garbage Man takes this premise as it’s kicking off point.
The people of Shreve aren’t the nicest group you’re ever likely to meet. I don’t think there is a single one of them who isn’t flawed in one way or another. They all have their fair share of dirty little secrets. In the homes of this typical British town you’ll find every flavour of nastiness and evil you can imagine, from adulterers to religious bigots, from drug-addled slackers to much, much worse. D’Lacey does a remarkable job with this rouges gallery. I never suspected that I would be cheering some of them on by the time the book reached its apocalyptic climax.
I read Meat, another Joseph D’Lacey novel, a couple of years ago and I remember being genuinely disturbed by how creepy the story was. The other thing that struck me is that there are so few writers that manage to create fiction that not only entertains, horrific or otherwise, but also manages to be thought provoking at the same time. Both of these novels, Meat and Garbage Man, manage this in spades.
I was so glad to hear that the company involved with the new print of Garbage Man are also as re-releasing Meat.
Mixing outrageous violent body horror with an exploration of the delicate balance that exists in the planet’s fragile eco-system is a bold move. Playing on genuine concerns about what everyone will face in the future, but adding his own uniquely bloody twists, makes for a compelling narrative. D’Lacey is writing horror that delivers high on the ick factor but also pricks at the conscience. Don’t be at all surprised if you come away from reading this novel feeling not only suitably grossed out but also a little bit more informed.
Garbage Man is published by Oak Tree Press and available from 29th October. Seek it out…if you dare. Highly recommended.