Jonathan Trigell - Cham (3 stars)

Jonathan Trigell - Cham

(Serpent’s Tail)

Snowsports are gnarly and the Romantic poets were rad so why not have them meet on common ground (the ski resort of Chamonix; Shelley’s Mont-Blanc) and add in a serial rapist for good measure? After winning the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 2004 with Boy A, Jonathan Trigell turns his pen to a snow-covered thriller. A keen free skier, he takes an extreme approach to writing. Flinging around quotes freely, he uses the household imagery of Dr Jekyll, Dracula and, above all, Byron to tell the story of Itchy, an alcoholic ski bum with a dodgy past, uncertain future and moral ambiguity.

The mystery, though gripping, is fairly obvious. Itchy the penitent screw-up is a familiar character and the poets are flagrantly abused, yet, with a ballsy swagger, Trigell avoids turning the (literally) sublime into the ridiculous to deliver a preposterous yet charmingly enthralling yarn. (Suzanne Black)

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