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Nineteen-year-old Millie O'Reilley is, clever, spiky and adored by men - yet utterly forlorn. Even though she has the devotion of her professor father, Jerry, and the respect of the hard-knocks in South Liverpool, Millie feels a sense of growing alienation. Increasingly disillusioned with her University course and fellow students, she seeks an escape in the underbelly of Liverpool's Cathedral area - home to crackheads, pimps, pushers and, most intriguing to Millie, whores. And when an encounter with a world weary prostitute turns into an after hours odyssey of drink fuelled self-abuse it, ultimately, leads Millie toward questioning who she is and what she wants to get out of life. Shockingly candid, brutally poetic, Helen Walsh has created a portrait of a city and a generation that offers a female perspective on the harsh truth of growing up in today's Britain. Brass is an unsettling but ultimately compassionate account of the possibilities of identity and the desirability of love.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781841954844
ISBN-10: 1841954845
Format: Paperback
(220mm x 140mm x 20mm)
Pages: 296
Imprint: Canongate Books Ltd
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Publish Date: 29-Mar-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » A tough Liverpudlian college girl delves into the darker sides of life, including female prostitutes, the "brass" of the title. Millie and Jamie are best friends and partners in drugs and drinking, though, much to Millie's chagrin, Jamie is planning to settle down and marry Anne Marie, a boring but pretty ex-model turned cosmetician. The story alternates between Jamie's and Millie's viewpoints, though it's clearly Millie's. She lives at home with Dad, a handsome college professor Millie's fellow coeds swoon over, and she's supposed to be working on her thesis. Instead, she spends most of her time in bars and on the street, pursuing ladies of the night, many of whom spurn her (one calls her a "perv" for wanting lesbian sex). British first-timer Walsh skillfully handles the local vernacular-it sounds real yet is far more comprehensible to an American ear than, say, that of Irvine Walsh, who's an obvious influence. The raw style works best in the sex scenes: graphic, erotic, disturbing at once. But when Millie rapes a young girl in a bathroom stall (all the while assuring herself, and the reader, that "she's letting me do this to her"), Millie goes from a somewhat dysfunctional young woman to a sexual predator-a shift that doesn't ring true, given the broad strokes she's drawn with. The story that takes over in the last quarter-Millie's discovery that her father slept with her mother's sister, explaining why her mother left years before-is much more compelling than the pub-hopping, cocaine-addled earlier scenes, though it does feel tacked on, as if Walsh rambled through a diary of Millie's daily life before getting to the real meat of her character. A fast-paced, gritty look at the back streets of Liverpool that could benefit from more depth and less dirt. Still, newcomer Walsh's energy and language give an entertaining ride. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Helen Walsh

HELEN WALSH was born in Warrington in 1977 and moved to Barcelona at the age of sixteen. Working as a fixer in the red light district, she saved enough money to put herself through language school. Burnt out and broke, she returned to England a year later and now works with socially excluded teenagers in North Liverpool. Brass is her first novel.

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