The subtitle of this book is a more indicative description of the story than the actual title of ‘Cured Meat’ which suggests harsh, and blunt writing. In fact, there is a lot of delicate, imaginative and evocative prose, far removed from the concept of ‘cured meat’ which relates to the author’s treatment in a psychiatric hospital.
She was involuntarily sectioned for mental health treatment during her post-grad studies at an American university, and the reader is dragged down into her abyss of psychiatric dugs, only to resurface to face yet another downward spiral into her subsequent time as a heroin addict, followed by a period of prostitution, and yet, there are no graphic scenes of sex, drugs, abuse or forced clinical treatment. Much of the writing and the novel’s structure relate to the author’s first degree in classics, and a lot of the prose is written along similar lines, with references to classical authors.
And, as this is written from the perspective of someone who was forced to take psychiatric drugs, and then took illegal class A drugs, it’s an introspective book, that focuses on her vivid vision of the world. Inevitably there are surreal passages. There is little real-time action, we’re almost watching a film in slow motion, and characters come and go.
But it’s powerful and engrossing, and ultimately optimistic, although the ending tails off somewhat.
Unfortunately, the formatting is incorrect for a work of fiction with erratic paragraphs and breaks between paragraphs. There is both American and British style for punctuation and spelling. On top of that, some words are spelled both ways, eg judgement/judgment. Even accounting for style, given the nature of the book, there are too many grammatical errors/odd phrasings for full Awesome Indies approval. However, the book’s good qualities make it a candidate for the Awesome Indies Rough Cuts category – well worth reading if you don’t mind the errors.