Wild Life by Liam Brown
‘And at that moment the world seemed to wobble and then topple completely from its axis.’
Liam Brown’s novel Wild Life tells the story of Adam, who can do nothing to prevent his life from crumbling around him when he loses his job as a high-profile advertising salesman.
Adam is an unremarkable, married man working in a well paid position of power, fuelled by drink, drugs, gambling, sex and cash. When he is made redundant, Adam’s days of schmoozing clients and sleeping with his colleagues are abruptly ended. He is left in debt with no way to support his wife and two young children. Adam’s character is reminiscent of the infamous Patrick Bateman, trailing though life in a haze of cocaine and meaningless affairs. We don’t ever learn Adam’s last name, most likely a deliberate choice by Brown, who has named his character after the first man on earth, according to the Abrahamic books.
With the pressure piling too high, Adam packs his bags and leaves home in the dead of night, stumbling upon an abandoned park where he meets Rusty, a rugged homeless man, and his dog. With very little consideration for his family, Adam allows himself to be taken in by Rusty’s fraternity of homeless men, who live self-sufficintely in the park, hidden from the forbidden outside world.
This new life in the midst of the natural world brings us back to Adam’s possible namesake – he lives in what seems to be an Eden-like place of beauty, alongside likeminded men, able to discard thoughts of his previous mindless and corporate existence. Amidst the sun and the freshly prepared meals, one unusual character lurks, unspeaking and unsettling – Sneed, who the men eventually conspire against.
When the Summer ends and Sneed disappears without trace, the men, driven mad by hunger, begin to turn on one another: “the rules had changed. It was every man for himself now. Or at least, every mouth for itself.” Adam becomes just as intrinsically trapped in his new life as he was before hand, though in the park, threat comes from starved and depraved men rather than debt collectors. Unfortunately, we never definitively learn why Sneed was such a peculiar person, why he couldn’t speak or why he came back following his first attempt to leave – perhaps we are supposed to glean this information from Adam’s own experiences. Is park life cyclical, repetitive, repeatedly morbid?
Park life is certainly surreal – Adam seems to delve deep into his own subconscious mind, where he encounters men symbolic of varying aspects of his personality. When his idealistic new routine turns sour, Adam realises that no one can escape reality without consequence. Wild Life will be available on 13th June 2016, and is a staple read from Legend Press if you enjoyed Lord of the Flies and The Beach.