Welcome to Manchester Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Manchester ConfidentialCultureArchitecture.

Excerpt from Friction

Confidential gives a sneak preview of Joe Stretch’s novel

Published on February 5th 2008.


Excerpt from Friction

You might want to read the Joe Stretch interview before reading this – click here

The excerpt below is a key moment where central character Justin thinks of the ultimate plan to give sense to his boredom. This sets the direction for the novel as it works to its awful conclusion.

Another key character is the brooding post-industrial city of Manchester. Stretch name-checks places in a way not seen since the Smiths – this scene is set in Pizza Express on South King Street. The Green Quarter, the Malmaison, Fallowfield, Rusholme all get the treatment. He says, “Manchester is where I live. I walk the city and Manchester is the stage. It was instinct.”

The scene below shows off the verve of the writing style, and the subtle and not so subtle direction of the book. If nothing else Joe Stretch offers a fresh and distinctive voice. This boy can really write.

BACK DOWN SOUTH King Street to the restaurant where Justin is watching his mother foreplaying with her tuna Niçoise. The salad’s loving it, the leaves writhe in their dressing and, of course, all olives adore a little middle-aged sex. Justin is wondering whether inheriting sixty thousand pounds is enough. Surely, he thinks, with sixty grand I’ll never have to see her again, she can fuck off to Greece and shag a schoolboy. I’m free, he guesses, free to find new ways of loving.

He’s watching the space where his mother’s left arm meets with her left shoulder. He’s watching the way the excess fat on both body parts meets; he imagines this area of skin is sticky to the touch.

‘Your father wasn’t a rich man Justin, and I’m barely taking any for myself’

Justin nods. He’s wondering what his mother’s body was like before she met him, before she gave birth to him. He feels that her large bosoms have always been dependant on a degree of obesity. He imagines their size fluctuating in accordance with her varying weight. He imagines this process sped up. Bigger then smaller. Bigger then smaller. Could you plot a graph that showed moments of good fortune and happiness coincided with periods when she was a good weight, when her breasts were firm and more taut, still large but not droopy? He imagines the graph and tries to imagine his mother’s current misery.

‘Have you any idea how you’ll spend the money?’

‘Well,’ Justin begins, quickly deciding that sixty grand is enough and that’ll he’ll never have to see his mother again. ‘I was thinking of conducting an experiment.’

Diane’s eyebrows arch into something like an interested expression.

‘Yeh, mum, you see, I’ve been shagging very similar girls recently. So similar, in fact, that I can no longer tell one from the other. And, in truth I doubt they can distinguish me from other boys either.’

A paper napkin begins to dance in Diane’s hand, nervously waltzing with her fingers. She sighs at her tuna salad; the sex is over, her son having interrupted.

‘So what I thought,’ Justin continues, ‘was that I could do an experiment.’ He gulps the remainder of another White Russian leaving a milky residue across his top lip.

His mother’s eyes begin to quiver. Justin rises and leans forwards till his face is only thin air from her own: ‘Mum.’ He says, slowly and quietly, ‘I’m going to save us all. I’m going to find brand-new ways of having sex’

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JinkiesFebruary 5th 2008.

Vurt was an awesome book, pollen too. They're slightly-fi though, so not to everyone's tastes. Interesting except above, bit horny this writer?

Bingo CharlieFebruary 5th 2008.

This style is sick—frighteningly ill, like AIDS ‘n cancer kneaded into a super virus to fight AIDS ‘n cancer, or maybe more realistically, just one of them. But what do I know? I'm just a proctologist, a proctologist with an online degree fighting rats in this deadly sewer, a proctologist who would like to write more, but who has a few more dusky butts to check before rushhour…

ShaFebruary 5th 2008.

Good writing definitely. The tone and the observation are interesting too. Makes me want to get the rest of the book now and read more.

WasserFebruary 5th 2008.

We've all heard of Vert and Pollen but anybody intersted in Manchester literature knows that they were bobbins

litgitFebruary 5th 2008.

Since The Smiths? never heard of the novels pollen or Vert ! tut tut

mark mFebruary 5th 2008.

As an aside, there is a proctologist (well, actually a radiologist with a speciality of prostates) at Leeds General with the unfortunate name of Dr Dick Fowler. Honestly.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
OR CREATE AN ACCOUNT HERE..
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Anonymous

I started work at Dial House in 1946, as a trainee telephonist . Did any body else work at the…

 Read more
Anonymous

I'm sure it will happen over time, the sprawling suburbs will start to creep back towards the city…

 Read more
Anonymous

To digress a little but in a similar mindset,why has nobody done anything about regenerating…

 Read more
James Smith

I'm basically saying that 2 peters square is set to be an equivalent North tower. But at least that…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2017

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code | SEO by The eWord