The cover makes me think 'Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer' as done by Kraftwerk. The collection of books clearly came from Bill Bryson's library, and Benny Hill obviously positioned the Greek sculpture. And the title is clearly a Rolling Stones reference.
Impressive for a cover. Hence why I picked it up.
Let It Bleed is the sixth book from Nicole I Nesca. Her and her husband, Tony, have teamed up to create Screamin' Skull Press. Their mission statement is to "...journey toward a more rebellious future for literature...", as they feel let down by mainstream publishers because they (according to Nicole) "...wouldn’t have the courage to publish the kind of work that we want to create. It’s interesting – sometimes we wonder, could Charles Bukowski find success in today’s market?"
Since the 2018 Booker Prize winner was a story about a young girl being harassed by a milkman, I highly doubt it. Although the fact that it was set during our recent history makes me suspect this lifted it above the average shite that qualifies for prizes these days.
Anyway, kudos to the Nesca's for taking the punk rock approach and doing it themselves. And, I'm pleased to report, Let It Bleed is a collection of prose and poetry that is so simplistic in it's approach, that it is brilliant.
Beginning with the bold statement 'this is a work of fiction', the reader has 'Haemorrhaged' thrust upon them. A stark tale, it's narrator tales the tale in such a cold, disconnected fashion that one can only conclude that she's still in shock over what happened and the dehumanisation that goes hand in hand with the medical process, well demonstrated in the payoff lines 'I am six months removed from the haemorrhage. Let it bleed.'
Such a tale, with it's mix of clinical telling and attention to grotty details, lets us know this is going to be some book.
'Act like I Don't Remember' is a poem that manages to take sibling rivalry/differences, examine their different outcomes in poignant, but defiant fashion. Poignant, because of the extreme differences, and defiant because of their working class backgrounds.
'Cumbersome' is the inner mind of a neurotic type who both craves and avoids attention. The narrator is someone who knows fine rightly they will never be satisfied, but have come to terms with it, as shown by the use of the line "(Melodramatic guitar solo)" in the middle of the monologue.
Only running 120 odd pages, Let It Bleed hits the reader with it's combination of big emotions, ordinary people and straightforward delivery. Plenty try and fail with this approach, but Nesca's secret weapon is that the characters who make up the book are ordinary people struggling to make their way through this world in some shape or form, be it for medical, political, social or self inflicted reasons. But none of them actually realise that they're struggling. They simply see it as some sort of barrier that either has to be crossed or has been put there for a reason. This ends up giving the characters an air of rank ordinariness, which is a relief from most tales where the narrator is either puffed up to superhuman levels of goodness or arseholiness.
This is the real deal.
Nicole I Nesca, 2017, Let It Bleed. Screamin' Skull Press ISBN-13: 978-1387421787
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland.
Follow Christopher Owens on Twitter @MrOwens212