By Joel Hynes
Somewhere between Hold Fast and Trainspotting, there is a crevice for Keith Kavanagh, the troubled central character of Down to the Dirt. With gritty tales of pyromania, the pros and cons of statutory rape, abortion as a means of birth control, and the botched mercy killing of a poisoned cat, this dark and comical book charts the escapades of Keith from his early teens – coming of age in small town Newfoundland, to his early twenties trapped in a hellish basement apartment in St. John’s, to eventually wandering the streets of Halifax in a demented, drunken hunt for his estranged girlfriend.
Angry and deluded, critical of one and all, addicted to anything that’s available, self-destructive and above all self-obsessed, Keith’s story is a sequence of loss and lines crossed, doors slammed and bridges blown to smithereens. Displaced by the collapse of community, uprooted from a once celebrated, now dormant and desolate way of life, Keith Kavanagh comes from a place and time whose children have been sent adrift. Down to the Dirt is a novel of the new millennium Newfoundlander.