Des Dillon's 'An Experiment in Compassion' is a painful and poignat look at alcoholism
- Kelly Apter
- 13 April 2011
It takes one to know one, we’re told, and Des Dillon’s painfully honest account of living with alcoholism certainly seems to bear that out. It’s 20 years since the Coatbridge-born author stopped looking for solace in the bottom of a bottle, yet the words he writes on that subject are as raw and sensitive as a freshly opened wound.
The ‘experiment’ in question takes place largely between two brothers, Stevie and Danny. The former a recovering alcoholic, the latter living from one trip to the booze aisle at Asda to the next. Compassion also pours forth from their friends and family; though often misguided it’s always heartfelt.
As the story unfolds, Dillon moves forwards and backwards in time, slowly painting portraits of victims of abuse, neglect or simply circumstance, who find comfort in the warm flow of alcohol. Yet in amongst the violence and paranoia, lies hope, love and a great deal of wit. And it is this that Dillon captures so truthfully: the backstory behind the Buckfast.