Saturday, 24 April 2021

Down The Tubes by Kate Rigby

Down The Tubes by Kate Rigby
Self published in March 2011.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via Rachel's Random Resources

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A hard-hitting novel based on the author's experience of working in the field of addictions.

It's the late 1980s and mother of four, Cheryl West, lands herself a job at a drugs project in London. But memories of her old life are never far away, especially when her surly daughter, Elaine, makes her unwelcome visits.

Meanwhile, Cheryl's estranged son, Michael aka Dodo is ironically having his life destroyed by drug addiction in his attempt to avoid painful memories of abuse. He goes from one chaotic situation to another, ending up on the streets and reaching rock bottom, until he is referred to a drurehabilitation centre in rural Hampshire where dark family secrets are uncovered.

They're each on a journey, but can there be reconciliation as well as rehabilitation?

Down The Tubes is the third of Kate Rigby's novels I read, after Far Cry From The Turquoise Room and Thalidomide Kid. I thought Down The Tubes had more in common with Far Cry in that it tells its story from the perspectives of a parent and their child, in this case Cheryl and her adult son Michael. Cheryl is such an interesting woman to get to know, especially in the 1980s context of this novel when an openly independent career woman would still have seemed unusual. I loved the way in which Rigby portrayed the fractured family left in Cheryl's wake and, as readers, we don't initially know to extent she could be considered responsible for this maternal 'failure' and how much of the blame is her internalised guilt. The job interview is such an accurate example of how women had to edit their personal lives in order to get rewarding employment and, too often, still do now.

I found it more difficult to connect with Michael although I appreciate how Rigby captures his complicated personality and fragile self-esteem. If you're as squeamish about needles as I am, there are a couple of drug use scenes you might want to read through your fingers, but it's absolutely worth doing so in order to read this powerful story of addiction. Rigby's former work in this area gives Down The Tubes a strong ring of authenticity and, while some of the theories and practices might have changed over the past forty years, her understanding of the psychology of addiction is still very relevant. I feel awkward saying I 'enjoyed' Down The Tubes because it seems to light a word for such a traumatic narrative, but I'm glad to have had this opportunity to read the book and I'm now looking forward to picking up its sequel, The Colour Of Wednesday.

Author Bio

Kate Rigby was born near Liverpool and now lives in the south west of England. She’s been writing for over forty years. She has been traditionally published, small press published and indie published. She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so she decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was first published in 2010 and has since been updated.

However, she’s not completely unhip. Her punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published her novels Seaview Terrace (2003), Sucka! (2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work appeared in Skrev’s avant garde magazine during the noughties. Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007). Her novel Savage To Savvy was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Quarter-Finalist in 2012. Other novels of hers have received various Independent Author Awards, including Awesome Indie Awards and Chill With A Book Readers Awards. She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers, published in three different publications.
A shortened version of her blog as a tribute to David Bowie after his death was included in the book: ‘David Bowie: I Was There’ (Red Planet Books 2017).

She also writes poetry and is currently co-editing an anthology for other poets with disabilities and long term health problems. She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now re-Kindled as Did You Whisper Back?). She has re-Kindled her backlist and is gradually getting her titles (back) into paperback.
Author Links

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Books by Kate Rigby / Historical fiction / Books from England

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for your insightful review, Stephanie. Much appreciated 😊