Ron Berry

What first drew me to the book, in the box at the jumble-sale I still don't know, but it was a wild revelation to read. Its vernacular did not precisely match that which I was hearing around me, but that was irrelevant. I realised, for the first time, that the ways in which ordinary, non-TV people spoke - their rhythms and elisions, their slang, their ungrammatical but identifying linguistic tics - were important and valuable and uniquely expressive and possessed of a huge communicative power. Ordinary people could be the subjects for books; they mattered. Their lives were worthy of exploring in literature. This was seismic.

It remains an extraordinary novel: 14 different voices tell how Hector Bebb, a Valleys boxer, punches and kills the barman who has been openly having an affair with his wife, and then escapes to a hill farm for five years where he is looked after by an admirer, a one-armed ex-soldier. On discovery, Hector flees further into the mountains, turns feral, and is destroyed during a pursuit by armed police.

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