Kelby Losack’s Heathenish is a thoroughly gritty hood tale told in an engaging style via a series of vignettes. The book has a smooth autobiographical vibe and can easily be read in a single sitting. Heathenish is also exactly the sort of book I expect to see published by Broken River Books. The story has a stripped back style to it and tackles drug use and addiction in an almost casual yet truthful manner. As for the writing itself: Losack’s prose is sharp as a razor and so is the dialogue-an essential ingredient in a book such as this.
Our young narrator is a troubled individual. His life is a merry-go-round of drugs, drink, and parties. It’s a little bit like the classic movie Menace II Society in a way, except it’s set in Texas! The book is full of damaged, wasted individuals. However, these are real people with real problems, living life close to the edge.
Heathenish is a tale that deals with self-loathing, but it certainly isn’t all doom and gloom. There are moments when the reader is shown a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel as our narrator experiences brief moments of clarity and a desire to get his life back on track. I really enjoyed these moments along with the recklessness of youth that is portrayed in this story. Most of the time I felt as if I was on a rollercoaster but couldn’t get off. I just kept going up and down, round and round, again and again, it really is great stuff. Heathenish is also a very human story. We all make mistakes, often we learn things the hard way. It’s what growing up is all about, and whilst I wasn’t quite as wild in my early twenties, I can certainly identify with some of the situations in Heathenish.
Broken River Books don’t churn out books simply for the sake of it. Their stories are carefully chosen and the authors have an edge that other publishers can only dream of finding. This is as honest and as gritty as writing gets. Heathenish won’t be for everyone, but if you want to follow the path of a young man on the wrong side of the tracks then this is the book for you.
4/5 blunts from the Grim Reader
Pick up a copy from here.