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Reviewed by Neil A White for Readers' Favorite
Buckland Gap is the debut novel from Charles Stanley Wiltshire and is as gritty and hard-nosed a portrayal of a city’s filthy underbelly as you are ever likely to read. Buckland Gap tells the story of David, a twenty-something thug that lives for nothing more than lager, cigarettes, sex and violence. His lifestyle is funded by unemployment checks and supplemented with random muggings. And as his travails descend into even more despicable acts, his life slowly but surely spirals out of control. Mr. Wiltshire’s novel is set in the English seaside city of Portsmouth; specifically, the Buckland housing estate. And if his depiction of the city is even half way accurate, it will have the city elders cringing with embarrassment and their Office of Tourism shutting their doors. Reading Buckland Gap brought to mind the excellent novel by Kevin Barry, City of Bohane. But, whereas Barry’s Bohane was of a fictional Irish city set in the future, Mr. Wiltshire’s Buckland appears all too real.
Mr. Wiltshire has created a novel of characters you will feel no empathy for; an entire community that believes the rest of the world owes them something, and one in which not one person will ever take responsibility for their actions. For example, “David grinned at this, Kat was right. This country needed hardworking people who paid taxes so that geezers like him did not have to work.” – p.224. You will pray it is not a true reflection of today’s world, but will find many striking examples of a path we have already begun to slide down. You’ll also feel like taking a cleansing shower after turning the last page, but will soon be eagerly anticipating Mr. Wiltshire’s next effort.