RARA-AVIS: Cameron: Brown Bread in Wengen

From: K Montin ( kmontin@total.net)
Date: 15 Sep 2002

Jeremy Cameron: Brown Bread in Wengen (1999)

The voice of the narrator, Nicky, is the most original I have read since Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. The back cover compares Cameron to Roddy Doyle, Irvine Walsh and Damon Runyon. Colloquial, in other words.
(The Runyon comparison makes me wonder if Cameron might also have made up some of his language, although it does seem authentic.) In fact, it borders on impenetrable at times. If I were watching a video, I would have been hitting rewind pretty often. But I liked it. I got a real feeling of accomplishment whenever I understood an entire page.

It all starts when Nicky finds a "dead geezer" on his stairs in Walthamstow
(North London).

"His neck was a state you had to reckon. Rope near as took his head off. Eyes popping. True as I stood here his tongue hung down his chin. Gravy came out his hooter and his lugs. Then more off his back where they plugged him. All over the fucking stairs and who cleaned it up? I got permanent aggravation off downstairs about who cleaned the fucking staircase. Landlord never wanted to know. I reckoned it got to be their responsibility downstairs. Fair enough I used the stairs for climbing up only they got them all day."

The rest of the book has him and his mates trying to dodge death at the hands of about three different groups of villains while figuring out who killed the guy, an MP, as it happens. Our unlikely hero is engaged as a kind of private detective by the MP's widow.

The climax takes place in Wengen, Switzerland. The descriptions of Swiss food and a beginner's skiing lesson are priceless. The final battle is totally improbable, as virtually everyone from all the other scenes turns up. It is also bloody, but it does wind things up nicely.

This seems to be third Nicky book. The other two are Vinnie Got Blown Away and It Was an Accident. I will be looking for them, but as it was pure fluke I found this, I am doubtful. (No, I never buy books on the Internet. Actually, I am trying to stop buying books for a while. You know how it is.)


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