In early 2009, around about the time HATER was released, I spent a lot of time mooching around various dark corners of the Internet wondering what people were saying about my book. On many genre sites I visited I remember seeing the distinctive covers for Joseph D’Lacey’s books, MEAT and GARBAGE MAN. Who is this D’Lacey character, I wondered, and how come he’s got a quote from Stephen King on his books (D’Lacey Rocks!)? I thought we were destined to become adversaries, competing against each other to try and conquer the UK horror market.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Over the years I’ve got to know Joseph and we’ve appeared at several events together. He’s a lovely guy; very knowledgeable (check out his recent Guardian top ten horror novels piece), and a damn fine writer. He’s even a TV presenter now (more about that later…).
But it’s not all been plain sailing. Publishing is a fickle and sometimes cruel business, and through no fault of his own, MEAT and GARBAGE MAN failed to have the impact they should have. He told me “Going out of print is something I think a writer can quietly live with, difficult though it is to accept that a book’s life is over. However, having your books withdrawn from sale because your publisher goes bust is a situation most writers probably never even anticipate. It certainly came as a shock to me! I’d always believed that of my two Beautiful Books titles, MEAT was the one with the potential to grow a long tail. When the administrators stepped in at the end of 2011, though, I had to face the fact that any tail it was growing had been severed.”
Fast forward to today, and with a new agent, a new publisher and an expanding back catalogue behind him, both MEAT and GARBAGE MAN have been reborn. Not just reborn – revitalized. “The reissue was a perfect opportunity to improve the novels, so we edited them again and had them re-proofed. Garbage Man was originally published with all sorts of typos and problems with scene breaks. All that has been fixed. I’ve rewritten the acknowledgments section in each book, to make sure everyone who’s helped since their first publication gets a mention, and there’s a section of extra content in both novels. MEAT gets a new preface and Garbage Man a new afterword. The covers have been redesigned too, of course, and the eBooks are enhanced with extra content. I couldn’t be happier with the result.”
Click the link to find out more about the books.
I’ll talk about GARBAGE MAN in a moment, but for me the main course is MEAT.
Abyrne, the last enclave in a wasteland. All food is produced by Magnus Meat Processing and controlled by the Parsons of the Welfare. Richard Shanti, the ‘Ice Pick’, is Abyrne’s legendary bolt-gunner, dispatching hundreds of animals every hour to supply the townsfolk with all the meat they could want. But Shanti is having doubts about his line of work. When war breaks out between the corporate and religious factions, Shanti must sacrifice everything he loves in order to reveal the truth behind Abyrne’s power structures and fight for what he knows is right. In a world where eating meat has become not only a human right but a sacred duty, what happens to those who question the nature of the food source? The townsfolk are hungry. The townsfolk must be fed…
This is an exceptional book. Beautifully written and horrifically detailed, D’Lacey has created a starkly original dystopia here, one where fresh meat is the currency and where organized religion has the people of Abyrne in a seemingly unbreakable stranglehold. With MEAT, D’Lacey does something which only the cream of dystopian literature manages to achieve: whilst writing so vividly about a world which, on first glance, seems several universes away from our own, he draws uncomfortable parallels and manages to speak volumes about our society; about some of the paradoxes we take for granted and accept without argument on a daily basis. As is the way with my book recommendations here, I don’t want to review MEAT or go into much more detail because I want you to enjoy it (if enjoy is the right word) as much as I did. Highly recommended.
Now GARBAGE MAN:
Shreve, a dead-end town next to the UK’s largest landfill. There’s nothing the bored residents won’t stoop to in an attempt to spice up their pedestrian lives. All wannabe model Aggie Smithfield wants is to escape before Shreve swallows her ambition along with a million tons of rubbish and dirty little secrets. Desperate, Aggie asks renowned but reclusive ex-photographer, Mason Brand, for help. The deal they make might be the only thing that can save her when the town’s fate catches up with it. Beneath everyone’s feet, something born of the things we throw away is awakening. And when the past is reborn, there will be no escape.
D’Lacey is again tackling a number of issues which are increasingly relevant today here, but he develops them in a nightmarish, almost surreal way. Although not as immediately satisfying as MEAT, GARBAGE MAN is another very good read which I highly recommend. The cast is more disparate and the numerous characters hard to keep track of at times, but there’s a palpable sense of unease and impending doom throughout which keeps the story moving at a pace. There’s some incredible imagery here too, not least the extraordinary descriptions of the creatures which emerge from the Shreve landfill. Gruesome, grubby eco-horror, GARBAGE MAN is another novel that’s fully deserving of your time and attention.
So there you go. MEAT and GARBAGE MAN are available now from Oak Tree Press – get them via Amazon, the Book Depository and all usual stockists. I’m thrilled that these books are back in print again, and I hope they find the audience they deserve.
Oh, and about that TV job Joseph has landed? He’s presenting a regular horror slot on The Book Show which launches in the UK on the Showcase 2 channel at 6pm on 24 November – more information can be found here. Here he is talking about MEAT.