Prepare to be Amazed
From teenage punks to fleabag motels, Andrew F. Sullivan’s Waste depicts misery in a worn-out city
“The City that Moto-vates.” For years, this was the slogan of Oshawa, Ontario, when virtually every resident was one or two degrees of separation from General Motors. But apart from building cars, Oshawa’s reputation also included unglamorous criminal elements, for being host to random stabbings and frequent mescaline trafficking. Its nickname outside the city, the “Shwa,” seemed both onomatopoeic and apt.
If you took Oshawa, distilled it, and ran it through a funhouse mirror, you’d have Larkhill, Ontario, the setting of Andrew F. Sullivan’s debut novel, Waste. This potent and disturbing book follows the diverging and converging stories of Jamie and Moses, two young men who work at a butcher shop in the city. On their drive home one winter night, they accidentally run over a lion. The lion’s owner, the biggest fish in the local criminal pond, sics his two ZZ-Top-esque enforcers on tracking down the killers of his favourite pet. The result is a step-by-step tour through the basements, bowling alleys, and hobby-shop-cum-drug-dens of the city. Each stop on the tour is punctuated by misfortune: knees perforated with electric drills, heads bashed with Dr. Martens, and bodies stuffed into buckets of slop. It’s a grisly ride that could have easily slipped into crime-novel cliché, but instead is rendered in engaging prose (“He would stand there with rust growing on his tongue, wondering what her feet looked like naked”) that prioritizes character over tough-guy pomp. Sullivan deftly paints human touches onto each character, such as Moses’s quest to find his unhinged mother, before subjecting them to inevitable miseries.
Click here to read the full story over at TheWalrus.ca