Summat Else, Royston Tester's debut collection of short fiction, sketches the life and times of Enoch Jones, too clever and too queer to be a working-class lad from Birmingham, the polluted heart of England's `Black Country'. In these linked stories, Tester gives us unforgettable glimpses of Enoch's youth, introducing him first as the adopted son of a family of `caravan runts', then as a juvenile delinquent in an animal kingdom of doddering majors and simpering pigeon-fanciers, all blind to their own grotesquerie.
Enoch escapes, `eighteen and out of England', to the brutality of Spain during Franco's final months, where he turns tricks in hostels while dodging riots, gunfire and marriage. Eventually, the story circles back on itself, and Tester burrows into the murk of Enoch's genesis: an industrial landscape populated with teenage factory girls, holy joes, virgins in ditches, and, ringing throughout, disembodied voices `like someone reading the Lord's Prayer backward all the time, or shouting directions in Latin from inside a bowl of porridge.'
Summat else indeed.
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