College dropout David works a job at a phone survey call centre
4/5 Harper Collins College dropout David works a job at a phone survey call centre: drab, lifeless, cubicle walls ‘flecked with coloured bits like tiny festive mistakes.’ But unlike other fictional office spaces, there’s no comedy here. It works purely on the metaphorical level: David talks to no one except the people who respond to the survey, and they can hardly tolerate him.
After finally reaching his upper limit of self-disgust – he almost makes an old woman cry during the course of a call – he tosses his PC into his bathtub, promptly putting an end to his internet addiction. Not long afterwards, he runs into Thomas, an old friend who’s out dumpster-diving for food, and who introduces him to the anarchist squat house Fishgut. The occupants exist at that parental-nightmare-nexus where hippies and punks coexist in a glory of hygiene flouting. David enters the Fishgut vortex, where he finds surprising beauty in the house’s home-made religion.
The narrative moves among a few of Fishgut’s freegans, and in each Taylor finds a singular humanity. It would be easy for a less empathic writer to simply attribute an alternative lifestyle to some commonplace loneliness, a condescending sense that the characters are just ‘lost.’ And though Taylor occasionally allows himself to romanticise the hippy/punk commune, the devoutness with which his characters take on their ‘gospel’ mirrors his own seriousness in his treatment of their lives.