Introduction by Rob Grant
(PS publishing, $50.00, limited edition hardcover, 500 numbered and
signed copies; also available in signed, numbered, limited edition slipcased
hardback; published July 2005.)
TWOC helpfully begins with a definition ("Twoc
(twok) slang, abbr, used by police, lawyers, probation officers and
other members of judicial services for criminal offence of Taking Without
Owner's Consent as distinct from Theft, and usually applied to motoring
offence of so-called 'joyriding'"). Not to be confused with Twocking
(by Eric Brown, published by Barrington Stoke, in which a distinguished
adult genre author writes about joyriding for a teen audience). Simultaneously
published on Faber and Faber's children's list, although the only indication
on the PS edition that it may be aimed at a younger audience is the
back-flap reference to Graham Joyce being "the author of ten adult novels"
-- not that it matters, as this is a very adult teen book, or a very
teen adult book. And it's bloody good.
bit of context:
That's enough for context.
Remember that line from a non-classic Beatles song, something like
"you were in a car crash and you lost your hair"? This is that, only
as well as 16 year-old Matt's brother's girlfriend being horribly injured
in the crash, Matt's brother Jake is killed. Now, Jake has taken to
returning in a variety of costumes (I'm not sure what all the fancy
dress really had to do with anything, come to think of it) to hang around
outside Matt's twelfth-floor bedroom window and taunt him.
Matt really is screwed up, as are Amy and Gilb, two kids he meets at
the local probation office. Joyce does screwed-up teenagers very well
indeed, striking the difficult balance between trying to sound "street"
and not taking it into the realms of unreadable and instantly dated
teen argot. Matt is horribly anguished by what has happened, and his
only defence is to try to hide his emotions and tough out every situation;
Amy and Gilb are more insightful in their own ways, but both are also
deeply-scarred individuals. The three delinquents are thrown together
on a rather under-populated Outward Bound trip, where they confront
their pasts, and their weaknesses, and have to make tough choices which
will affect the rest of their lives. This post-crash story is neatly
interleaved with flashbacks to the night of Matt's skunk-fuelled joyriding
crash, so that everything builds up to a make-or-break night for all
three of them.
It's hard to write a story of redemption where to any external observer
the dice are so heavily loaded -- nicking cars and causing death and
horrible injuries aren't really very good things to do -- without slipping
over into the heavily moralistic and/or the schmaltzy tying up of every
loose end of the worst of Hollywood. Joyce is a tightrope walker: he
has perfect balance. This is good stuff.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: