Liam Brown: Wild Life
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for review by Legend Press as part of their Legend 100 Club.
Publisher: Legend Press
Publication Date: June 13th 2016
When a troubled advertising salesman loses his job, the fragile wall between this public and private personas comes tumbling down. Fleeing his debtors, Adam abandons his family and takes to sleeping rough in a local park, where a fraternity of homeless men befriend him.
As the months pass, Adam gradually learns to appreciate the tough new regime, until winter arrives early, threatening to turn his paradise into a nightmare.
Starving, exhausted and sick of the constant infighting, Adam decides to return to his family. The men, however, have other plans for him. With time running out, and the stakes raised unbearably high, Adam is forced to question whether any of us can truly escape the wildness within.
I found Wild Life to be an engaging work of fiction that left me contemplating and evaluating my perception of those living on the streets and the extremes that they have to go through in order to survive. Brown highlights important themes without being overbearing, reminding us of the importance of nature and the sources of food and nourishment it can provide, as well as the impending downfall of those who give in to temptation and do not right the wrongs that are a direct consequence of these actions.
Our narrator, Adam, reminds us of our heritage and our prior abilities to live off of the land and how we have left nature behind, no longer being able to live without TV’s, smartphones, internet, and takeaway food available at the click of a button. It is his time spent within the community of men living on the outskirts of the park that allows him to realise this dependence our society has on modern technology and changes in science. Through the community setting, Adam is forced to re-evaluate his life and the actions he took, comparing his old life with the new which, ultimately, leads to a new and developed Adam.
In the beginning, I found the novel to be a bit slow in pace – I wasn’t entirely sold on the concept of this novel; Adam appears to have every addiction going for him: drugs, alcohol, gambling – and it appeared as if Brown was trying to give each addiction the chance to shine and show how far Adam had fallen. I didn’t think that it needed to be presented in this way, with some of these addictions not entirely needed. His situation and the effect it had on his livelihood is common knowledge to the majority of adults and could have been handled with less. However, it was around the 80-page mark that I found myself drawn in when Adam first met the community. I could feel the fear and wariness emanating from the pages as Adam met the head of the community, Marshall – and it was then that I became hooked on this novel and its premise.
All of Brown’s characters within his novel appear to develop as the narrative progresses, some for the better and some for the worse. It was interesting, and sometimes unnerving to see how these characters developed and what caused this – with some characters personalities and their relationships to Adam altering drastically throughout the novel. I believed that Adam’s development was drawn out well with him questioning his life and actions and finally realising the impact he has had on others around him.
I really enjoyed this book and the concept and it brings hope that those living on the streets are able to live their lives in more humbly than begging and starving on the streets. It reminds us that these people are as much a part of society and our local communities as anyone else – they once had jobs, children, friends, and gave back to our economy etc.