Jennifer Reese
November 05, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Brass

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Helen Walsh
publisher
Canongate
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B-

Set in contemporary Liverpool, Helen Walsh’s NC-17-rated debut plumbs the adolescent despair of seductive, self-destructive Millie O’Reilley. The gorgeous daughter of a distinguished professor, bisexual Millie likes cocaine, Ecstasy, sex with whores, and slumming with her working-class best friend, Jamie. Narrated by both Millie and Jamie, the novel is packed with wonderful, dark, lyrical rants. Far too many of them, in fact. Brass would have been twice as potent at half the length. Moreover, Walsh’s explanation for Millie’s behavior — that the poor girl is smarting from her parents’ divorce — is shockingly simplistic.

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