A series of cautionary tales for our digital age, set in strangely familiar locations that at times seem like Thatcher-era Northern towns under military rule or post-Brexit council estates after a Farage party bender. Things are leaking into Endland from all over the place. Nothing is stable. Now is also then and next year, a landscape that is future and medieval at the same time. What’s more, the gods have started drinking at lunchtime, which can only lead to trouble.
I am so utterly unhip that I wasn’t familiar with the original, but I am now a diehard fan: late to the party, I’m glad to have made it at all ...There are not a lot of good, lucky and nice people in the book ... The stories deliberately blend into one another – themes, characters and motifs recur, and are set in a place called Endland, which both is and is not England, a post-apocalyptic England, ruined, war-damaged, pathetic, sad and self-destructed ... What happens next is never good: the gods are powerless; there are no happy endings ... This could all be incredibly turgid, like subjecting yourself to some dreadful art installation, but it’s not. The stories are nastily funny – sick jokes – and Etchells is a latter-day Menippean satirist. The biggest influence on his early stories, he notes in an afterword, was Mark E Smith of the band the Fall, whose lyrics were glorious, ferocious rages ... The book is horrible, brilliant, deliberately provoking. At times I wished it was over; now I wish it had never stopped.
Endland is a merciless parade through a world molded by the violent looming of Brexit Britain, Google's all-seeing Big Brother eye and the political bloodshed of Thatcher's rule. Brutality and dark comedy is the beating heart of these stories; stories that are like acid trip fables gone oh so wrong ... Etchells is a master of language, viciously marrying online slang with the once-upon-a-time that every reader is familiar with. His clarity of meaning strikes the reader hard, with a barbarity and reality that stuns like the shock of diving headlong into frozen waters. It’s a pleasure and a revelation: it forces the reader to re-examine what language is capable of ...This is a distraughtly passionate kaleidoscope of a book, as soul-searching as it is a lacerated mannequin of a man. Pick it up though; it’s a savage and comical read, best enjoyed in stages.
A squalidly funny collection of short stories set in the ruined fairground of Brexit Britain, these 'postcards from hell' present parochial filth as mock epic ... neither misery porn nor social realism. Etchells’s depravity may smell like Johnny Rotten but his linguistic flair comes from Joyce and Burgess. And like his highbrow forebears, Etchells is highly resourceful when it comes to remolding the language to fit his darker purpose ... Etchells’s assault on linguistic decorum has a liberating rather than destructive effect. Plasticity of notation entails plasticity of meaning, and many of his aberrations are revealing ... Its florid colloquialisms and anarchic narrative forms serve to shed light on other neglected spaces — the lives of Britain’s forgotten working class. Etchells’s surreal humor offers new entry points to new modes of empathy for a demographic that’s much discussed, much maligned, but little understood ... The gaps in his surreal fables are the dark interstices in which new sympathies may fester. Not everything works — not every experiment can — and some of the stories feel repetitive. But there’s sufficient fizz and scum on every page to keep those who are game at the table.