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@duffythewriter down the hume book review

‘He touched my face. When his hand went along my bruised top lip and my almost broken nose, I winced from the pain. His fist went into a deep denim pocket. Pulled out a Syrinapx bottle, twisted the cap off and handed me two light blue pills.’

Bucky has got himself in a mess.  He drifts from one minimum wage job to the next, he has an addiction to painkillers and a boyfriend ‘nice arms Pete’ who says little and does all his talking with his fists.

This is a raw, confronting glimpse into the world of Bucky, who struggles week to week and gets by as a carer for an aged care facility in Western Sydney.  Author Peter Polites portrays Bucky as a sorrowful character who, by trying to claw out an existence for himself, ends up falling deeper and deeper into a world of addiction, obsession, and depression.

Polites has a unique prose which took me a while to get used to.  Words are used sparingly, clipped almost, and the sentences have no real structure. A few times I had to go back and re-read paragraphs, unsure if I was reading one of Bucky’s memories, or the present. This prose added to the blurriness in Bucky’s life expressing how his senses become dull and memories confused as the blue pills wash over him to take away his anxiety.

The relationship between Bucky and his parents is an interesting one, and I felt a lot of empathy for both Bucky and his long-suffering mother; dealing with an old school Greek husband and father with no time for homosexuals, even if his only son is one.  There’s a real insight into the complicated mix of old traditions and the heady combination of temptation and freedom in a modern city. Polites uses acute observation to dissect the many socio-economic groups from suburb to suburb and places them in their respective clusters. Social groups and memories are woven together with each chapter representing an area important to Bucky.

“Glammas in Lorna Jane, full face of make-up, living the dream.”

“jackals in the TAB.”

The tale of Bucky is not a happy one, so don’t expect to come out of this uplifted.  However, it’s a sharp observance of ethnicity, sexuality, obsession, addiction and depression in Western Sydney, but could just as easily be set in any inner city area.

So what did I think?

I found the read interesting, and prose I’ve never come across before, but I couldn’t connect with Down The Hume or the characters within.  I’m a plot-driven reader, and there wasn’t much of one to be had here, I think the jumbled prose, although unique, didn’t give me time to anchor to a character.  

For me Down The Hume seemed like the other side of the world to me.

If you liked the movie Candy, or read and loved Tom Houghton, then Down The Hume Is For You.

3 out of 5

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