Member Review

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle

Pub Date:

Review by

G H, Reviewer

Last updated on 14 Feb 2018

I Recommend This Book


This is a book that does not fit easily into the usual defined categories indeed my initial perception of it would change as this increasingly desperate and horrific story became darker and darker. Set in Edinburgh (ostensibly a wealthy city but with a hidden underbelly) this unflinching tale tells the story of Willem who clearly has learning difficulties but has maintained a labouring job. However such is the precariousness of modern day existences that in a short time he losses his job, his mother dies, he is evicted from his flat and his beloved dog Jap is taken away. Finding himself alone on the streets and without assistance he begins a grim struggle to survive. But Willem is certainly not someone you should upset or confront and as the body count increases you realises that there will be horrific consequences caused by society neglecting and abandoning such a man like Willem.     

Edinburgh is a renowned as a city of literature and I was reminded of elements of James Hogg's "the Private Memoirs of a Justified Sinner" also set in Edinburgh which also has an anti hero and deals with the Calvinst concept of predestination. What options were really available to Willem once he fell through the non existing safety net. 
The writing style and vocabulary reflects the brutal realities of life in the underclass but there are also Greek fables and scenes from nature that show and help to explain the complexity of  Willem as he escapes the torments of the city to what he believes will be a purer and peaceful existence in the wilds of the Scottish highlands. But can he really escape? 

As someone who knows Edinburgh (having also taken in the past the walk like Willem did along the canal form Ratho) I believe that the writer has accurately reflected the geography and essence of the City. The cover of the book also symbolises the content inside. Certainly a gripping if uncomfortable read which I would have no hesitation in recommending.

Buy this Book on