Book Review by Sam Slaughter
Exotic dancers have never been so lyrical. Julie Reverb’s No Moon, a collection of interrelated stories that pinball around the darker side of England, proves that in short, beautiful order.
No Moon follows Billy and Lucy— an opportunist who wants to run a porn business and a woman who strives to attain some amount of celebrity, even if it’s on the small stage (and does so by being Billy’s main event). The protagonists attempt to navigate their seedy lives. Nothing is easy, yet they persist, trying to make a go of life, longing for more and better.
In every story, and just about every word, readers can feel the sadness and longing. Reverb’s characters all want something, but you can feel they’re not going to get what they want. Even if they manage to achieve something, there’s going to be collateral damage. Reverb’s characters will not come out unscathed, and yet you cannot look away. You want to see what happens to Lucy and Billy, you want to cheer for them, and hope against everything that it will be okay.
The biggest joy to come out of Reverb’s debut novel is the prose. It swirls and spirals in and around and back on itself. Often, such as in the first story—which is only one paragraph—Reverb eschews punctuation. Her prose jumps into forward narrative movement (or back, or wherever she desires to take the reader). At other times, the start/stop of consonantal sounds pushes you ahead, leaving you wanting more:
“Near-naked dead-end regret brought to life and pawed by eyeless packs of graffitied bus stops. This is what goes on in the suburbs after sundown. An ape chorus bends and howls guernincally at what will only get worse in comfortable footwear. Pushy parents fine-tooth the programme on the front row. Tact stands in the wings in pissy knickers knock-kneeing and mouthing missed cues.”
No Moon is over almost as soon as it starts. Reverb’s blending of gritty, narrative fiction with lyrical exploits is fit for poetry slams. Her style moves you through the stories with ease and speed and then, before you know it, you’re done:
“I laugh when I watch him bite ice and think about dog years human years light years and what’s secret what’s never said remember dad says mind the stinging nettles on your chicken legs sometimes we find coloured eggs he says not to touch them or the mum won’t come back and this makes me cry how Roy Orbison sings cry.”
No Moon is a book that deserves multiple reads, not for its length, but for the fact that every time you take in one of these stories, it’s like taking a shot of your particular poison.
Sam Slaughter is the author of the chapbook, When You Cross That Line, and the short story collection, God in Neon. He currently lives in New Jersey, where he is a spirits writer for The Manual. He can be found online at www.samslaughterthewriter.com and @slaughterwrites.