‘Like the feeling you get being the passenger in a car that’s being driven recklessly by someone with blood on their hands and a bag of rusty tools on the floor beneath their seat’ – Nothing Matters by Steve Finbow

Some people say Steve Finbow is experimental, like experimental is a dirty word, like experimental means ‘shit, you might have to think about this’ – and who, after all, wants to exercise the old grey matter? Nothing Matters is probably experimental to some. It comes in both poetry and prose flavours for one thing which is likely to get some gentle sorts in a tither. It’s also written, at times, in the kind of high octane staccato sentences that James Ellroy and David Peace use. There are people in this world who don’t warm to the heat of the machine gun as it rattles words out. Which is fine. Wouldn’t do for us all to be the same, would it? Those people can enjoy their One Days and their Bird Songs and their Curious Incidents. Me? I like that feeling you get of being the passenger in a car that’s being driven recklessly – and not just recklessly either. Nothing Matters is more like the feeling you get being the passenger in a car that’s being driven recklessly by someone with blood on their hands and a bag of rusty tools on the floor beneath their seat.

This is crime. In a sense. There’s this guy – Finbow calls him X – for whom ‘escape has become the only choice’. He’s blown out, leaving Z ‘in a puddle of silk, pool of lace, imprint of brass knuckles on high derisive cheekbones’. We hear how the two of them met, what kind of sick puppy game the two of them have been playing, how it reels in and out of control:

three days later, called

met fucked left loitered called

Z reneged again called again

Z lied third time lucky

Z relented

and then, elliptically, we slip from his voice to hers. We retreat into her past, learn what it was like to grow up ‘as syncopated as a two-legged Bambi’,

…being looked after

looked over

looked at,

waited on and spoiled.

Neither Z or X is particularly pleasant, not that that matters or should matters. Finbow is the kind of writer who likes to lift up Ellroy’s carpet. He wants to see what shit the old dog sweeps under his carpet. If it’s too perverse, too fucked up, for Ellroy, you can bet your ass that Finbow will want a look. You get as far the ‘crackpopcrack of nasal bone knee to groin, cock still hard’ you’ll see what I mean.

You pretty much pity anyone sucked into the orbit of these too (poor Raoul, for instance, who ‘had a fetish for my panties’) – you know they’ll never make it out of here alive. But then that’s why we’re here. We’re prurient. Easily shocked. Oh no, Mr Finbow, the tres gentile ladies will say. You couldn’t possibly – He could. However far you think he will go, he will go further. If you’re easily shocked, the door is over there. If you think you’re not easily shocked, you still are. The only people able to swallow this ocean of sputum and haemospermia will be the people who read Pierre Guyotat and scream, like Rocky Balboa, with blood choking up the gum shield, Is that all you’ve got?

Of course writing this hard won’t be for everyone. It’s what Finbow calls the ‘fasterfasterfasterfasterfasterfasterfasterfasterfasterfasterfaster-juggernaut surges’. But for this reader, for the duration of the thrill-ride, it had me by the scruff of the neck. Now if I can only work out how to get the door open before he realises I’m still here…

Any Cop?: The darkest road trip to the deep black heart of Finbow’s psyche with a kickass soundtrack and a swinging rat-a-tat delivery. Not for pussies.

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