The Warehouse Industry by William Macbeth

This is a strange book but it also has a compelling pull on the reader. You need to try to work it out! At the start of the novel, we find a young man (I don’t think we ever learn his name) seeking out a job in a warehouse. He isn’t particularly good at this job, doesn’t appear to enjoy it and wouldn’t mind being somewhere else. He is, to be frank, a loser. If you are kind, you might assume he was suffering from some kind of depression.

He has a girlfriend who he robs so he has to leave town. He finds another job in another town and the manager’s daughter takes a shine to him. Neither of these potential relationships appears to be of any interest to our anti-hero and they simply lead him into further problems.

Then, gradually, through a series of flashbacks we begin to find out what has happened. Essentially, two of his brother’s friends decided it would be fun to persuade him that while in an extremely drunken state, where he got involved in a fight, he had killed his opponent. The book now becomes clearer. The young man believes himself to be on the run and is consumed by guilt. It is only much later in his life, after a chance overheard conversation at a wedding that he finds out the truth.

Does his life then get better? Possibly? However an awful lot of it has been wasted. He also takes a fairly brutal revenge on the men who deceived him so it might be the case that he is still a hunted man!

It is not a long book. The style is deliberately flat and, at times, repetitive to convey the mundane quality of his existence. He is beaten up by various people but is quite unable to develop any kind of social existence to counter this violence. Some might say he brings it upon himself. All in all, it is a weird story redeemed by the realisation that there probably are many people living at subsistence level and doomed by guilt and mental illness. In a way, he is a little like Eleanor Oliphant but there appears to be no one around to help him get better.

(This book was published in June 2018 by Thistle Publishing. I received a review copy from the publishers through NetGalley.)



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