A novel by Peter Conrad
The severed head of a murdered businessman, sealed in a plastic bag, serves as a football for rowdy youths of "the valley." The valley, "on the far side of the city," is society's rubbish dump, home to roving gangs, bag ladies, illegal aliens, refugees from the city and a boy named Wilf who protects himself against life with the stick he carries everywhere. A haunting parable of evil and social disintegration, this debut novel by cultural critic/historian Conrad ( Where I Fell to Earth ) moves from murder to mayhem as Paul, a visionary architect bent on redesigning the valley, and his lover, Kate, a painter who defends the valley culture, involve themselves with Wilf in ways that will transform all of them. On one level, Conrad's dense fantasy is a critique of senseless, random violence and our willingness to tolerate a permanent underclass. On another level it's a meditation on art as a ransacking of reality, on modern architecture's utter irrelevance and the hazards of faith and love.
Used availability for Peter Conrad's Underworld
April 1992 : UK Hardback