Jacob Polley — Talk Of The Town

After two well-received volumes of poetry Lancaster University graduate Jacob Polley’s debut novel Talk Of The Town is a different step not just in the leap from verse to prose, but in its subject matter too.

Set on the last day of the school holidays in 1986, Talk Of The Town is narrated by teenager Chris, whose best friend Arthur has gone missing.  Over the course of that final day and night Chris tries to find Arthur, enlisting the help of Gill who allegedly ‘shagged Arthur in the graveyard’ and encountering some of the local ‘big boys’.  Hard cases, or maybe just hard cases to a 15 year old.

Polley writes in his local Carlisle vernacular, the text is peppered with the likes of ‘hod’ and ‘gan’ yet it is never a distraction, never a difficult read.  The poet shows through at times in some of Chris’ florid similes, and this helps build his character.  Chris’ language is precisely that of the adolescent who thinks he is adult but knows he is a child, ricocheting from the naïve and clumsy to the self-consciously ‘mature’ and back.

Talk Of The Town is a thriller, with a nice twist or two on the way, about the end of innocence, and perhaps the reclaiming of it.  It is a violent novel, without the sheer intense brutality but echoing the corrupted moralities of David Peace’s early work.  To say that Jacob Polley is an author to watch, of considerable potential, might sound as though this debut isn’t quite up to scratch.  Not so, it is a poignant, gripping tale, with an ending of genuine impact.

One Response

  1. I’m fairly new to his work, but I just featured Jacob Polley in my poem of the day series. He’s a wonderful, wonderful poet.


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