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Trevor Hoyle - Rule Of Night

- Nicholas Royle, Time Out, London Book of The Week 2-9 July 2003.

Originally published in 1975 and now reissued by intriguing new Hebden Bridge-based Pomona Books, 'Rule of Night' is a powerfully authentic account of working-class life and gang violence in early-1970s Rochdale.

Sixteen-year-old Kenny Seddon has girlfriend (Janice) and a football team to follow (the Dale), but he can't hold down a job and he's filled with hatred for the world around him. The only thing that lifts him out of his rut of existential despair is the promise of an evening's criminal activity, whether it be selling pills to teds and Northern Soul boys, or mugging Pakistanis for pennies. With steel washers for a knuckle duster an a shapened spindle in his pocket, he'll take on anyone from disguntled Bury fans to longhaired bikers to youths in bowler hats who've taken 'A Clockwork Orange' a bit too literally.

In an afterword written for the new edition, Hoyle reveals what prompted him to write the novel. He wanted to discover what makes someone like Kenny tick, to find the human being inside the hooligan. This is precisely what he has done, with an extraordinary degree of success. It's testament to Hoyle's skill as a writer that despite the shocking pleasure Kenny takkes in hurting others, despite his disgraceful treatment of women and people of other races, despite his unthinking callousness, monumental insensitivity and relentless brutality, we still care about what happens to him, we still become emtionally involved, because the author has made him real.

With the much feared return of football violence and the elections of BNP politicans in Lancashire towns, Kenny Seddon is a character as relevant to our times as to three decades ago.


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