Billy And The Devil
by Dean Lilleyman
Billy and the Devil is a shocking, compelling and intimate portrayal of isolation, sexual misadventure, and addiction. Told in a series of brilliantly rendered observations and episodes from Billy’s life, this controversial story charts an all-too real descent into alcoholism. It is an unflinchingly vivid journey to a place of no return, where love is lost in the darkest of woods – a boy, who becomes a man, who becomes his own worst devil. But ultimately, what choice does Billy have?
Billy And The Devil gives us a dark, stark, sordid insight into the life of an alcoholic. Billy’s grandfather was an alcoholic who stabbed his wife and ended up in prison. Billy’s father, who he never knew until adulthood had major problems with alcohol. Nature or nurture? Some would say the die was already cast.
We see Billy as a small boy enjoying watching tv with his Nannan, as any small grandson would. By his teenage years he’s already drinking heavily both in school and out. And this sets the tone for the rest of his life.
Watching Billy’s descent into alcoholism is like watching a car smash. He lives his life with no meaning, no control, no off-switch. Boundary after boundary comes crashing down until there really is nothing left.
The story is told in vignettes, some are fairly long, some told as a play and some just a few words long:
Throw clotheshorse at her.
Leave by kitchen window
The story is so dark and sordid but the writing soars, it gives a tenderness to the story that is totally unexpected.
There are some incredibly sad moments in the book, particularly with Billy’s wife Grace and their children Scarlett and Joe; and his Mum, who your heart would break for. But also with Billy who, like all alcoholics, cannot or will not see the damage they are doing, the devastation they are wreaking and the hurt they are causing.
This book is a must read for anyone who wants a picture painting of what happens to an ordinary life when the booze takes over. However it is extremely graphic and real horror, but in my opinion it is also a masterpiece.