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Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation - by Martin Millar ranagrande Send a noteboard - 12/02/2011 06:20:48 PM
Welcome to my first-ever review here at RAFO!

I picked up this book from my local library because I liked the name and it was the correct size. I read the back of the book and saw that a critic had described it as "surreal." I thought of our genre challenge here and checked it out to use in the "Surrealist novel" category. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I'd recommend that others read it too.

The book tells the story of Alby Starvation, a poor paranoid drug dealer from the slums of Brixton, London, and his life after learning that he faces certain death at the hands of an elite assassin sent by members of the Milk Marketing Board, which is exactly as it sounds, an advertising agency promoting the sale of milk.

Most of the characters are rather shallow, and some of them don't even have names. With very few exceptions, the characters are not even likable, but they do seem very real.

Altered consciousness is a recurring theme, with many characters being in such a state for all or part of the time. Their reasons vary from alcohol to drugs to illness-induced delirium to a Zen trance to magical psychic power to naturally heightened emotions. I was tempted to do this review while intoxicated to attempt to capture that feel, but for some strange reason I don't like typing while drunk.

There were times, especially in the beginning, when the story was confusing or difficult to follow. It is not a linear chronology, so it jumps forward or back in time. It also jumps often from one character's point of view to another. Though Alby Starvation is the only one written in the first person, all characters have their own streams of consciousness. So the book is filled with tangential thoughts and non sequiturs.

Not that that's a bad thing. The writing is truly what makes this book. I considered submitting things for the Quote of the Moment, but I wouldn't know where to begin. The entire book is quotable. I'll open it to random pages now and select a few just to give you an idea.

Imagine getting injured somehow and your skull is split open and you have to hold it together till help arrives and if you take your hands away from your head it falls apart. I'd hate that.

If I'm reincarnated I'd like to come back as a hamster, in fact I think I was meant to be one this time round and this accidental occupation of a human shell is the root of my problems.

They have no idea why he should have suddenly got better and they are a little put out, they wonder if he was faking it all along and just pretending to be in a coma.


Apparently, this was Martin Millar's debut novel. He has several other books out, and I think I may have to read them sometime. As I mentioned above, some of you might want to also.

Besides, it's British. So people here should like it. :P
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Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation - by Martin Millar - 12/02/2011 06:20:48 PM 11280 Views
I've read The Good Fairies of New York by him. It was pretty good. *NM* - 13/02/2011 04:03:48 PM 3028 Views
I love the incongruity of assassin + milk company. - 14/02/2011 05:36:43 PM 3149 Views
I enjoyed that too. - 15/02/2011 03:11:33 PM 3115 Views
Interesting! - 16/02/2011 02:02:25 AM 3046 Views
Re: Interesting! - 18/02/2011 01:14:12 AM 3147 Views

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