By Jon Roe
Though the Berlin wall fell almost two decades ago, the effects of the Cold War are still felt in Eastern European countries who have yet to make serious strides towards matching their western counterparts’ economies. Straight out of Eastern Europe, Headcrusher puts readers in the perspective of Vadim, a Latvian bank worker who, disgusted with the system he sees around him, snaps and goes on a killing spree.
Headcrusher is the debut novel for the writing duo of Alexander Garros and Aleksei Evdokimov and like modern classics American Psycho and Fight Club, the novel excellently mixes dark humour with a critique of capitalism. Where Headcrusher differs from the two books-turned-films is the perspective–American Psycho and Fight Club offer a look at the underside of society from the American side of the Iron Curtain.
In the book, Vadim, a former column writer for a newspaper during the Soviet era, finds himself looking for new work after the fall of communism. He ends up working in the mindless press department of a major Latvian bank, where, rather than doing actual work, most of his time is committed to writing rants against his superiors. After a few chapters of setting the scene, the novel really begins when Vadim kills his boss by taking a statue to his head, causing Vadim to follow a path of death and destruction with some Russian mafia involvement and random killings thrown in for flavour.
The book succeeds in every way, maintaining a certain sense of grim horror while adding in humourous elements throughout. Garros and Evdokimov uphold a breathless pace, using a stream of consciousness style to place the reader in the position of Vadim, rather than merely watching him do all his gruesome work. Headcrusher is never boring thanks to the assault of words with furious velocity, with the best parts being the most hectic and action-packed.
Definitely not for the faint of heart, Headcrusher contains a high level of detail in every scene, especially when describing the killing and dismantling of bodies. Garros and Evdokimov keep the same attention to details in the sex scenes, making them on par with what you would read in an erotic novel. Combined, the sex and the violence accentuate an already compelling story, surprising given this is the authors’ first work.
Headcrusher is an excellent novel for our time and an intriguing look at the other side of the Iron Curtain. Following in the footsteps of contemporaries American Psycho and Fight Club, the book adds a critique of capitalism and greed to black comedy and shocking violence.