"My new shrink asks me, 'What things do you remember about being very young?' It's like looking into a murky river, I say. Memories flash near the surface like fish coming up for flies. The past peeps out, startles me, and then is gone."
Amanda secludes herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life; her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised.
As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape?
The Wacky Man by Lyn G Farrell is published by Legend Press on 2 May 2016 and is the author's debut novel. The Wacky Man was the winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary, the UK's biggest prize for unpublished authors, and has been described by Man Booker Prize nominated author Clio Gray as her 'Book of the Year'.
I have been reviewing books for Legend Press for some years now. I like them, they are a small, intimate, independent publishing house who publish very original and ground breaking novels from some of the finest authors around. I like the intimacy of Legend Press, I like their teamwork and their loyalty, and am rarely disappointed by anything that they publish.
The Wacky Man is one of those books that totally consume the reader, from the first few paragraphs, right through to the final chapter, there is no escape from the images that Lyn G Farrell so expertly draws. She really is an author to watch out for, it is almost unimaginable that The Wacky Man is her debut, it is so cleverly written. The story is terrifying, and stimulating, and absolutely heart breaking. I went through such a range of emotions whilst I was reading this book.
There will be readers who will shy away from the story that makes up The Wacky Man. It pulls no punches and it is stark, and dark and severe. Teenage Amanda is angry, bitter, damaged. She is dirty, foul mouthed and abrasive, but she is also vulnerable and desperate. Amanda's life has always been the same; the youngest child of three; unwanted and unloved by her father, and neglected by her downtrodden and terrified mother.
Amanda's parents; Seamus and Barbara were never a match made in heaven. Irish Catholic Seamus, with his hatred for the English and his overuse of heavy fists and boots married the pregnant Barbara and made her life hell. Amanda's elder twin brothers did take their share of the anger and beatings, but it was Amanda 'the girl' who suffered the most. Made to believe that she was useless, fat, ugly, stupid, she soon began to believe it herself, and despite episodes of respite and retaliation, Seamus succeeded in his quest to put out any spark of life that both Amanda and Barbara may hide beneath the surface.
Lyn G Farrell writes with incredible insight, I don't know of her background, I don't know how she's captured Amanda's life so well, but she really is one of the most talented and gifted authors that I've come across for many years. Mental anguish, brutality, family relationships, fear and ignorance; these themes make up the heart of this story.
The Wacky Man really is a stunning piece of work, and I have no doubt that it will be up there in my
Top Books of 2016.
Huge thanks to the team at Legend Press who sent my copy for review as part of the Legend 100 Club programme.
Lyn G Farrell grew up in Lancashire where she would have gone to school if life had been different. She spent most of her teenage years reading anything she could get her hands on.
She studied Psychology at the University of Leeds and now works in the School of Education at Leeds Beckett University.
Lyn is the winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary and The Wacky Man is her debut novel.
Follow her on Twitter @FarrellWrites
Find her Author page on Facebook
The Wacky Man was the Winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary
The award was set up shortly after Luke's death in 2006 by his family to support and encourage the work of fledging novel writers. The top prize is a publishing contract with Legend Press, as well as a cash bursary.
Legend Press are delighted to be working with Luke's family to ensure that Luke's name and memory lives on - not only through his work, but through this wonderful memorial bursary too. For those of you lucky enough to have met Luke you will know that he was hugely compassionate and would love the idea of another struggling talented writer being supported on the arduous road to securing their first publishing deal.
Legend Press will ensure that, as with all their authors, they give the winner of the bursary as much support as they can, and offer them the most effective creative platform from which to showcase their talent. Legend Press can't wait to start reading and judging the submissions.
Legend Press are pleased to be continuing this brilliant bursary for a ninth year, and hope to follow in the success of their previous winners Andrew Blackman (On the Holloway Road, February 2009), Ruth Dugdall (The Woman Before Me, August 2010), Sophie Duffy (The Generation Game, August 2011), J R Crook (Sleeping Patterns, July 2012), Joanne Graham (Lacey's House, May 2013), Jo Gatford (White Lies, July 2014), Tara Guha (Untouchable Things, September 2015) and Lyn G Farrell (The Wacky Man, May 2016).
For more information on the bursary and all Legend Press titles visit:
Follow them @legend_press