Ian Ayris

Abide With Me

"...buy this book and brag to your mates that you were there at the very beginning. '"


Two boys growing up in London's East End of the nineteen-seventies. John, from a streetwise and fanatical West Ham supporting family; Kenny, across the street, slow-witted, living in a world of dreams and shadows, beaten by his father, bullied by life.

And one day, Kenny, he just breaks right in half and the two boys are forced apart by a society crumbling around them.

Fourteen years later, after cup finals of joy and personal loss too searing to contemplate, the two boys are re-united, fronting up local gangster Ronnie Swordfish. It doesn't start well. And from where John is, laying on the ground, beat half unconscious with a metal bar, seeing Ronnie lifting up his sword to cut down his childhood friend Kenny, it don't look like it's going to get much better.

But Kenny, he's got other ideas. He always did.

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The current state of publishing means that the more nimble, smaller publishers are able to pick up on some major new talent that the publishing big boys are too afraid to touch. Ian Ayris is one such talent. ‘Abide With Me’ is a superb debut novel full of heart, tragedy and humour. It’s a book about friendship and the power of community; both in the criminal fraternity and in the community that is built by family and neighbours. When we meet the narrator, John, he is at primary school. At that tender age he has a strong moral code, a complete lack of interest in school and a salty turn of speech – and you fall in love with him immediately. You are utterly charmed by his personality and like his family and neighbours you want first to ruffle his hair ... and then take him by the scruff of his neck and slap some sense into him, when his choices take a turn for the worse. But the lessons that stick best in life are the one you learn for yourself and Ayris is a skilled enough writer to know this and sends our hero on a journey that you can only hope, like a committed uncle that he manages to settle on the right course. In short, this is wonderful stuff, worthy of a wide readership and a shedload of awards. Without any hint of hyperbole, can I say that Ian Ayris is a writer with a big future: buy this book and brag to your mates that you were there at the very beginning. He is that good.

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