Life Kills by Miles Vertigan
One of TISM songs goes like this: ‘Life’s a sentence, read all about it. I’m dying.’ These lyrics could easily sum up both the style and the plot of Miles Vertigan’s book, Life Kills. This extraordinary novel follows the most personal thoughts of an unnamed terrorist aboard a flight. His stream-of-consciousness comes at the reader full belt. There is no time for breath, no time to pause – reading this book is a ‘one sit’ occasion.
Vertigan manages to also intercede and intercept the thoughts of other people on the flight: the stewards, Bubbles and Sparkles, the pilots, Brad and Chad, and a whole list of B-list celebrities. Certainly his scorn is not limited to those personalities on board, but he also manages to cover the in-flight entertainment with fumes. The suspense of the plot lies in the slow-building anger and resolution of the so-called terrorist. The odes to the other personalities on board become more frequent, more absurd and ultimately more heart-breaking. This is after all, a novel steeped in satire at its purest.
Reading Life Kills is an unadulterated thrill. Vertigan’s prose is delicious: taunt and precise; although not for everyone. Vertigan is obviously the master of the spoken word and one should read this novel with this in mind. Sentences can run into pages of words and could often stand in isolation to the overall plot. Life Kills is an original tirade against society. Reading this torrent of apprehension is breathtaking, fun and creates a damning portrait of our society. James Joyce: I reckon you have met your match.
Chris Gordon is events coordinator of Readings