Title: Escaping from Him
Author: Liam Livings
Publisher: Manifold Press
Pages/Word Count: 148 Pages
At a Glance: A story of liberation and transformation that had me cheering on Ford and his family of choice.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Darryl’s on the run – from controlling boyfriend Chris, an air-conditioner called Dave (deceased), an intolerable, claustrophobic situation and a person he just can’t be any more. The trouble is, he doesn’t have a plan – or any money – and all he knows is he needs to get away from everything. That’s where a lucky lift to Glasgow comes in, which turns out to be just the beginning of a whole new life …
Review: This is a pretty new to me author, as I’ve only read one short story of his in an anthology prior to this book. I enjoyed that story so thought I’d give this longer volume a try.
Darryl has been living with Chris, a much older boyfriend, in London. Chris found Darryl when he was quite young and slightly desperately in need of some love. He’d grown up in foster care, and met Chris at age sixteen. When Chris asked Darryl to move in, he figured he’d hit the jackpot. But after four years of increasingly controlling behavior from Chris, Darryl is about to crack. Finally, he can’t take it anymore, after one more suggestion from Chris that he shouldn’t waste his time with art but should instead get a job a KFC. Darryl has had enough, and he goes a little bit crazy before he finally takes off.
As luck would have it, he manages to get a ride to Glasgow with Douggie, a truck driver on his way home. Douggie seems a genuine sort, and keeps Ford (as Darryl has now decided to call himself so that Chris can’t find him) entertained on the trip. Once in Glasgow, a serendipitous encounter with Douggie’s wife leads to a potential job as a photographer’s assistant, which is exactly what Ford has been looking for. It turns out that Ewan is a good guy and a good boss.
Finally Ford, with the encouragement of Lena, the one friend from London he is in touch with, decides he can’t stand one more Saturday night in his rented room alone. He goes out to a club and meets Charlie. Charlie is older and he would like to be with Ford, but Ford’s having none of it. He’s taking a break from relationships, or anything else. Charlie seems to accept that and introduces Ford to his band of friends. They are quite the eclectic crew – a drag queen, a florist and his boyfriend (both called Gavin), and other assorted hangers on. They become Ford’s Glasgow family.
Eventually, Ford meets Callum, an aspiring actor, when he comes into the photography studio for some new headshots. They begin dating and things get pretty serious. Neither is making a lot of money, but they are getting by, and their lives are going well on the jobs front. Lena comes to visit from London, and she’s satisfied that Ford is doing okay. There are some tense moments with Charlie, who isn’t necessarily happy to give up on Ford. Lena also gets tired of travelling to Glasgow, but Ford is unwilling to go back to London.
I don’t what to spoil the rest of the story, but eventually Ford has to face going to London, and possibly face his past as well. Callum and Lena are wonderfully supportive friends. The Glasgow family has Ford’s back as well, and it seems that Ford has finally come into this own.
I enjoyed this story quite a bit – from Ford’s meltdown, to his naïve rushing off to Glasgow, to his finally standing up for himself with Charlie. He really learns a lot about life and himself in the course of this story. He learns what love really means and what it doesn’t. I liked that he figures out that self-reliance and taking control of his own destiny still leaves room for someone else in his life, even if it isn’t always easy. Yes, things work out surprisingly easy for him, in that he lands pretty softly in Glasgow after a very shaky start, but some people are just lucky ;) I liked Ford’s voice in this story and look forward to reading more from this author.
You can buy Escaping from Him here: