Welcome to day two of the Dust Blog Tour!
Released: 8th September 2016 – £8.99 – Red Door Books
‘Early in life, my grandfather told me that only three things were certain: birth, death and time. And time only ticked one way; it went forward and never back. It came to be a recurring wish with me, the desire to turn back the clock, to undo what I had done. Always wishing for the impossible, my feet stuck firm in the molasses of the present, unable to shrug off decisions I had made and their unforeseen or disregarded consequences.’
J.J Walsh and Tony ‘El Greco’ Papadakis are inseparable. Smoking Kents out on an abandoned cannery dock, and watching gulls sway on rusting buoys in the sea, they dream of adventure… a time when they can act as adults. The day they’ll see the mighty Pacific Ocean.
Set in small-town New Jersey in the 1960s, against the backdrop of the Vietnam war, DUST follows the boys through the dry heat of a formative summer. They face religious piety and its murderous consequences, alcohol, girls, sex, loss, tragedy and ultimately the tiny things that combine to make life what it is for the two friends – a great adventure. But it’s a road trip through the heart of southern America with J.J.’s father, that truly reveals a darker side to life – the two halves of a divided nation, where wealth, poverty and racial bigotry collide. This beautifully written debut novel would not be out of place alongside the work of Steinbeck and Philipp Meyer’s American Rust. At turns funny, and at others heart-achingly sad, their story unfolds around the honest and frequently irreverent observations of two young people trying to grow up fast in a world that is at times confusing, and at others seen with a clarity only the young may possess.
El Greco and J.J. are ten year old best friends, they do everything together… smoke, drink black coffee, use curse words, cause trouble..
The friendship between the two boys is not just your every day run of the mill friendship. They face all the problems normal ten year old boys do, things like wishing for a better bike or the birthday present you asked for but didn’t get. However, these things are overshadowed by other everyday problems they have to face: death, illness, racism and the Vietnam War and its heartbreaking effects all weaving their way through the story making it easy to forget that you are reading about two ten year old boys, two very cynical adult-like ten year old boys. All of these factors contribute towards making their friendship a heartwarming, sometimes comedic and sometimes saddening story to read.
Dust is really beautifully written. Thompson uses wonderful language and metaphors to set the scene throughout the story. I especially liked that as the story went on and J.J. got older the narrative seemed to sharpen. At first the story reads like a child’s train of thought, sometimes scattered, but always connected to the original thought, which I loved. Towards the end of the story J.J.’s thoughts seem to be more coherent and ordered. Although only twelve or thirteen at the end of the story, it felt like every incident in J.J.’s life had helped him mature and see the world differently, and this is reflected in his narrative.
This book was by no means a fast paced or overly plot driven, it mainly details the daily life of the two boys, the mischief they get into to and how they deal with the issues that ten year old boys shouldn’t have to deal with. But, all in all Dust is a beautiful debut novel about the lessons of childhood, friendship and growing up. I highly recommend it!
About the author:
Mark Thompson was raised in Stockton-on-Tees, England, and spent many years living in London before moving to Andalucia in southern Spain. He has travelled extensively throughout the United States over many years, harvesting material for writing both literature and songs. He plays guitar in a rock band, and now lives happily in the wilds of North Yorkshire with his partner Liz and three children.
This is my first ever blog tour and I’m so excited to be part of it. Thank you so much to Mark Thompson and Anna at Red Door Books for sending me the book and giving me the opportunity!