MILTON IN PURGATORY by Edward Vass
Fairlight Books, s/b, £7.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
Milton Pitt is, without putting too fine a point on it, a bit of a loser. He hates his job, goes through the same routine day in, day out, has questionable personal hygiene, likes to get drunk in the pub, occasionally gets into a fight and lives with his pet hamster, Penfold.
One morning, his life changes – waking hungover, he sees a vision of an otherworldly woman at the end of his bed. When she disappears, he writes it off to after effects of alcohol and sets off to work. All appears to be as usual, until he’s hit by a speeding car…Next thing he knows, he awakens in the morning as if it had never happened. He struggles with the memory, wondering if it was an alcohol-induced dream, until he seems a set of bloody footprints leading to his fireplace. From this point in, nothing will ever be the same again for Milton Pitt.
In this novella, Vass has created a really inventive take on the afterlife that takes the reader on a journey filled with unexpected twists as Milton journeys into Purgatory and beyond. This thoughtful, emotional, bizarrely humorous and at times rather violent tale is well-executed and is one of those rare pieces of work that actually makes you think about your life without coming over as a preachy, self-help book. I loved the concept that each of us has a “Narration” – an entity that observes all of our lives, chronicling our every move and thought before we move onto our afterlife.
If Milton in Purgatory is anything to go by, Vass is one author to keep an eye on – inventive, intelligent and entertaining.