Ironopolis

Ironopolis by Glen James Brown

by
 

A fascinating, compulsive read during which the reader feels sometimes enveloped by the fog of the river from which the visceral embodiment of the spirit of the place emerges. I finished this book wanting to begin again, feeling that though strands were knotted up, there were questions unanswered or half answered and yet that deeper truths had surfaced: what holds people, breaks them, sends them spiralling off—and that is how it should be. In the sifting of documents and oral histories, a history of the generational entanglements of members of a community emerges. This is a community that has been sold down the river, their houses gradually purchased, the people disappearing and not only to known destinations but some leaching away. The main assembler of narratives and narrator, whose identity is revealed towards the end, is searching for his own history only to understand that the process of research rather than its end is an act of transformation. Through all of the structural circularities and symmetries, resonances through generations, the well down which a character might plummet in the old waterworks, the explosions that wipe people out or allow them to vanish, the marginalised of the community have an ear to hear the watery underground drawing them, many experiencing unexpected moments of the extraordinary in the everyday. Those who, on the surface, maintain a outward polish of respectability may not be all they seem but goodness and love are found in odd corners. The sense of loss and yearning is strong; those who leave in geographical terms spend their lives obsessively trying to make sense of where they came from. And the last laugh is on green-skinned, mildew sodden Peg Powler, of course…

Comments