Brandon Sullivan 🔖Like many other readers of The Pensive Quill, I make a point of reading
Christopher Owens weekly column on a Friday.



I read (to be exact, listened to) Ian Winwood’s excellent book Bodies after reading Christopher’s review. Song recommendations on heavy rotation on my Tidal account include Gary Numan - Child With The Ghost (a song I found a balm when considering a recent familial bereavement) and Theme For Great Cities by The Simple Minds. So, it was with some anticipation that I awaited his book, A Vortex of Securocrats.

I initially got the Kindle version, and read the beginning before feeling I wanted, and would get more out of having a physical copy, so ordered one. I’m glad I did. I think this book is a stand-alone piece of art, a statement. At first, it reminded me in some ways of The Myth of the Airborne Warrior – a portrait of an historical moment in time. In place of Stuart Griffith’s photography is Owens’ prose, and impressive prose it is too. The following are simply my interpretations of some of this work, or at least the initial thought processes trigged by Owens’ words. It’s a short review, and I look forward to reading longer ones of this book.

College Square East (each chapter is a poem or free-form writing, and each poem or free-form writing is named after a street in Belfast) contains a quote from Peter Suttcliffe. This poem disorientated me, and I read it several times. Why were Sutcliffe’s self-aggrandising words there? Was it a comment on travelling murderers? Or a nod to Martin Dillon’s observation that more police officers were dedicated to tracing a £5 note in Yorkshire during the Ripper’s reign than there were chasing the Shankill Butchers? Or was it something else entirely. I can’t quite say, but I do know, like all good art, I found myself asking myself again and again.

In Massey Avenue, the western macro optimism of the 1990s is noted in the lines “I think of being 12 and optimistic. I remember being told history was over.” And, then, the punch in the stomach: “I remember the photo taken just before the explosion.” That photo for me was of a child on the shoulders of their dad, beside a RIRA car bomb about to murder, main, and shock. Churchill talked of the “dreary steeples” – this poem brings it right up to the past 25 years.

The writing is dense with meaning, and it’s thought provoking. The kind of book you’ll pick up and put down a few times, and that will make you wonder where you may have seen, heard or sensed something before.

A good, moody, companion to Resurrection Men.

Christopher Owens, 2023. A Vortex Of Securocrats. ASIN: B0BW2XKJS3

⏩ Brandon Sullivan is a middle aged, middle management, centre-left Belfast man. Would prefer people focused on the actual bad guys. 

A Vortex Of Securocrats

Brandon Sullivan 🔖Like many other readers of The Pensive Quill, I make a point of reading
Christopher Owens weekly column on a Friday.



I read (to be exact, listened to) Ian Winwood’s excellent book Bodies after reading Christopher’s review. Song recommendations on heavy rotation on my Tidal account include Gary Numan - Child With The Ghost (a song I found a balm when considering a recent familial bereavement) and Theme For Great Cities by The Simple Minds. So, it was with some anticipation that I awaited his book, A Vortex of Securocrats.

I initially got the Kindle version, and read the beginning before feeling I wanted, and would get more out of having a physical copy, so ordered one. I’m glad I did. I think this book is a stand-alone piece of art, a statement. At first, it reminded me in some ways of The Myth of the Airborne Warrior – a portrait of an historical moment in time. In place of Stuart Griffith’s photography is Owens’ prose, and impressive prose it is too. The following are simply my interpretations of some of this work, or at least the initial thought processes trigged by Owens’ words. It’s a short review, and I look forward to reading longer ones of this book.

College Square East (each chapter is a poem or free-form writing, and each poem or free-form writing is named after a street in Belfast) contains a quote from Peter Suttcliffe. This poem disorientated me, and I read it several times. Why were Sutcliffe’s self-aggrandising words there? Was it a comment on travelling murderers? Or a nod to Martin Dillon’s observation that more police officers were dedicated to tracing a £5 note in Yorkshire during the Ripper’s reign than there were chasing the Shankill Butchers? Or was it something else entirely. I can’t quite say, but I do know, like all good art, I found myself asking myself again and again.

In Massey Avenue, the western macro optimism of the 1990s is noted in the lines “I think of being 12 and optimistic. I remember being told history was over.” And, then, the punch in the stomach: “I remember the photo taken just before the explosion.” That photo for me was of a child on the shoulders of their dad, beside a RIRA car bomb about to murder, main, and shock. Churchill talked of the “dreary steeples” – this poem brings it right up to the past 25 years.

The writing is dense with meaning, and it’s thought provoking. The kind of book you’ll pick up and put down a few times, and that will make you wonder where you may have seen, heard or sensed something before.

A good, moody, companion to Resurrection Men.

Christopher Owens, 2023. A Vortex Of Securocrats. ASIN: B0BW2XKJS3

⏩ Brandon Sullivan is a middle aged, middle management, centre-left Belfast man. Would prefer people focused on the actual bad guys. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for doing that review Brandon. Christopher is a much valued Quiller and a big shout out for his book. Well done - we will raise a glass to the book in July. It will be on my must read list.

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  2. A very, very big thank you to Brandon for taking the time to write up his thoughts on the book. It's very nourishing to read your interpretations and I'm honoured by the comparison.

    ReplyDelete