Ron Berry

New Welsh Review No.50

"Heroes of Zero Ambition" John Pikoulis on the lonely courage of the stories of Ron Berry. Was there ever such a working-class writer as Ron Berry? He resists all hope of amelioration and treats all reformist politics with a cynicism born of the belief that there exists a 'raw economic gospel of Us and Them' which no one can destroy. 'We inherit chaos,' as one of his characters says in the long awaited Collected Stories. 'It's unconditional.' The upshot is a form of economic determinism as pure as could be imagined, that the best you can do is to scrape a living for yourself. Since the odds are stacked against you, you will need to pit your wits against your enemies. Nothing else matters than this hand-to-mouth battle for existence.

His heroes, men of 'zero ambition', are employed as carpenters, miners, soldiers, factory workers, Merchant Navy firemen or butcher's delivery men (nearly all occupations Berry was employed in), footloose individuals...

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