All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

A Tiger In Eden – Chris Flynn

on February 22, 2013

A Tiger In EdenA Tiger In Eden
Chris Flynn
Text Publishing
2012, 215p
Read from my TBR pile

Billy is from Northern Ireland, a Loyalist through and through. He was recruited young, wanting to be more like his war hero grandfather than his quiet middle income father. Is it the mid 1990’s and Billy has had to go on the run from the Northern Ireland police. Thanks to his connections he was able to get out of the country and he has more than enough money to get him by. He’s in Thailand, travelling around the country staying in cheap hotels, drinking the cheap drinks, picking up women tourists. He’s been there a while and the gloss of being permanently on holiday is beginning to wear off. But Billy isn’t really sure what to do. His options are somewhat limited and he’s always looking over his shoulder.

Drunken brawls, one night stands, a Buddhist retreat and a drug fueled all-night dance party will help Billy come to terms with what he has done in his past and finally deal with it. He’ll know that he’ll always be looking over his shoulder but there are ways that he can move on as well.

I first heard about this book last year at the Melbourne Writers Fest when I attended the Sex & Sensibility panel, of which Chris Flynn was one of the panelists (you can read my recap of that event here). He read from a passage in this novel (a sex scene, naturally) but I do remember that he skipped the err…crucial point! I bought the book after the event and got it signed and have only just got around to plucking it out of the TBR pile.

I loved Billy’s voice. It’s littered with profanities and Irish slang and that’s actually what I loved about it. Normally I’m turned off by excessive usage of the word c### in novels, but I’m finding that it’s now only in erotic scenes that it bothers me. Billy is in his mid-20s and has spent a large portion of his life as a gang member in Northern Ireland. He’s covered in identifying tatts that bespeak his loyalties, he’s probably not overly educated. This is exactly how I imagine that a man of his position would speak – the conversational tone, the excessive swearing. I can also hear the Northern Ireland accent as well, when I read which felt genuine (although I am one of those people who can pick an Irish accent, but not be able to tell you where in Ireland or Northern Ireland they might be from).

Billy has lived a life of violence, it tends to be second nature for him. He finds ways even on a sort of extended holiday in Thailand, to burn out some aggression through fighting. But there’s also a strange kind of chivalry in him too – the fights that he picks are generally on behalf of others, who would be unable to fight for themselves and they’re often on behalf of women. There’s one scene where Billy tells a young tourist to put her bikini top back on as her bare breasts are inappropriate around the Muslim locals. Even he remarks that he cannot believe he is demanding a woman with a great rack put her top back on. Billy seems to have a respect for where he is and the people that are there. He tends to live like a local more so than a tourist, avoiding the overly popular places, travelling the way locals do in un-air conditioned buses and staying in places that tourists avoid or haven’t discovered yet. He also uses sex to dispel aggression. He seems to have no trouble picking up the ladies – he’s young, presumably quite fit and the aforementioned chivalry and respect that he has seems to make him an attractive option for a holiday fling, despite the simmering violence beneath the surface. In fact, it may even be because of the simmering violence beneath the surface!

When Billy goes to a retreat where there’s total silence, he has nothing else to do but think. He volunteers for chores to keep himself busy but it is the beginning of him finally facing up to what he did and the reason that he has fled Northern Ireland. It’s unlikely he will be able to ever go back and it’s also possible that even if he could, he might not, because of what he would have to deal with there, personally, police aside. He meets someone who seems to understand him, who helps him deal with it, who maybe even betters him. Billy probably shouldn’t be sympathetic, but I ended up finding him so. He’s a product of where he came from and what was happening in those times, he was someone who wanted more. He talks about the most horrific acts in blasé terms but he’s also capable of great remorse. I found him very interesting and his thought processes fascinating. Billy’s life was entirely different to everything that is familiar to me.

Although not something I would normally choose for myself if I were browsing the library or my local bookshop, I was glad I came across this book at the Melbourne Writers Fest. I got so much out of that experience, including finding new authors and books that I enjoyed enormously, such as this one. I’ll be looking forward to Chris Flynn’s next novel.

8/10

Book #42 of 2013

Aussie Author ChallengeAlthough born in Northern Ireland, Chris Flynn lives in Melbourne so I’m counting this book as #2 of my reads for the Aussie Author Challenge, where I’m aiming to read 12 books in 2013.

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