Ten Storey Love Song follows Bobby the Artist's rise to stardom and horrific drug psychosis, Johnnie's attempts to stop thieving and start pleasing Ellen in bed, and Alan Blunt, a forty-year-old truck driver who spends a worrying amount of time patrolling the grounds of the local primary school. A love song to a loveless Teesside, Ten Storey Love Song is a ferocious slab of concrete prose, peppered with beauty and delivered with glorious abandon.
Middle Child returned from the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival as award winners for their production of Weekend Rockstars and Ten Storey Love Song will look much the same: part play, part house party and a truly good night out.
A blistering, nearly stream-of-consciousness novel about the lives and loves of a group of misfits living in a British council estate, Milward's sophomore effort (after Apples) is a collage of druggy, grungy indulgences that is unexpectedly touching. Bobby the Artist paints bright, primitive canvases while tripping on acid. Georgie, his girlfriend and muse, is devoted to Bobby, but terrified of his lifestyle. Johnnie, the local drug dealer, has a hardcore pornography habit that's left him unable to satisfy the more gentle needs of his beautiful girlfriend, Ellen. Then there's middle-aged Allen Blunt, who spends a disturbing amount of time hanging around a local primary school. After Bobby's art is discovered and he begins a meteoric ride through the art world, Johnnie and Ellen forge a more profound bond, and Allen's life disintegrates after a run of bad (and violent) decisions. The narrative moves at a breakneck pace (the book is one very long paragraph), cleverly moving between characters and finding the right moments to pause for the rare tender moment. It's a high-wire act on a par with the better Irvine Welsh books.