"Last night it had happened around two: the beer was out and the dope was waning and the flesh felt old and empty. He was awake and itchy and the hours lined up in an endless assault course before him. What happened after that, he can barely remember, but once again he is empty of pocket and full of anonymous girl."
The age of late capitalism, and the raffish world of old Soho is being torn down to make way for a millionaire's playground. Caught in the crossfire is Matty Corani, who, from his pokey studio flat, yearns for the good old days.
But when Matty wakes up next to a stranger one morning to find his life in tatters, the bulldozers and the money men are the least of his worries. His family has been ripped apart by a sudden catastrophe, his busybody lawyer says he's wanted in court and he is being tormented by strange and savage dreams.
Luckily his friend Fix is on his way over with the promise of a good time. But as the debauchery intensifies over the coming days and Matty's mental state becomes increasingly precarious, his story is splintered by a series of psychotherapy sessions, erratic life writings, hallucinations and visions. Soon enough, Matty realises he is destined for far greater prospects than what is left of the grimy glamour and earthly delights of Soho.
A lyrical, wry and darkly comic debut that navigates the no man's land of loss, addiction and religious zeal, Mother of Darkness is a dazzlingly original work from an unmistakeable new voice.
Venetia Welby is a writer and tutor who has lived and worked on four continents. She studied at Oxford University and now lives in Bow, east London, with her husband, son and Bengal cat.
Artwork by Tony Lyons
© Estuary English
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