Martin Hacklett is English. He lives in London. His father, who used to work on the Thames, has been unemployed for 15 years. His elder brother has been in and out of prison. School consisted of the usual encounters with bullies and institutional indifference, and now he’s working as a bicycle courier, weaving his way through the buildings that tower above him. Martin had a girlfriend, Kate, but they were going nowhere. Then, trapped in front of the television, he sees a documentary on parkour—the “sport” of negotiating objects in an urban setting, running as if through an obstacle course.
Free-running offers the possibility of excellence. It reunites him with Kate. It gives him the opportunity to move above those who habitually look down on him, and it allows him to interact physically with his city.
Derek Turner’s descriptions of London are one of the highlights of his latest novel, Displacement. The city becomes a character: old, vibrant, curled along its river, evoked in swift effective sentences creating precise and memorable images. The prose is a pleasure to read.
As is almost inevitable in a world of tweets, likes, and shares, where everyone is armed with a camera and an opinion, where significance and value are measured by the attention a person or act...