The future of (gay) literature.
One of the many incredible feats of this novel is how it covers such a wide range of themes: from coming out to coming of age, homophobia, bullying, drugs, clubbing, becoming gay, sexuality, fetishism, reality and dreams, drugs and music. The story is that of a boy, who will remain without a name, who, having a dominant personality outwardly, develops a fetishist and submissive personality; his search for freedom from homophobia and bullying is hindered by self-denial, and becomes the search the search to explain to himself his role in the universe, and his quest for someone to whom he can offer his unconditional love and dedication.
The Road to London refuses to walk the beaten path, rejecting stereotypes along the way: our protagonist is not camp, but ‘one of the boys’, he has no references to guide him in his path towards becoming a gay man, he does not even start out as gay, he listens to Pink Floyd, he takes drugs and drinks excessively like most teenagers, he is, in fact a real ‘lad’. But this novel also rejects genres stereotypes and instead of being a pale copy of any other predecessor, it appropriates styles as different as Dickens’s and Virginia Woolf’s and, while starting almost like a ‘normal’ novel, soon starts becoming surreal: dreams and hallucinations become more vivid than reality; the boy starts writing imaginary letters to his great love, called My Dear, set in the future and in a gay club in London, building up the last chapter must be simply read to be believed: the scene shifts from this world into another dimension where even the dead speak, and where the mysteries of the universe and the meaning of life are explained through a game of pool.
Incredibly beautifully written, this romance, if we can call it so, is so rich in symbolism and incredibly colourful images that it penetrates deep into your subconscious, changing you, and making you realise that reality as we see it is only a social construct, and that the universe is what we make of it.
Incredibly erotic when sex meets love, and prose acquires poetic qualities, it becomes dry when casual encounters (in toilets, parks etc) take place, maybe to remind us that sex starts in the mind.
Exceptionally innovative and creative, The Road to London is a daring novel, a book unlike any other before. It did not come to me as a surprise to read critics asking for it to be entered for the Man Booker Prize: we finally have a gay novel to represent us in the firmament of great literature: The Road to London.
by Martin Davies