I came across Danny Birch because he happened to have just released his first book 'Clipped', and to have got it puffed in The Hull Daily Mail, at the time I was setting up The A63 Revisited site to identify, showcase and promote Hull writers.
So, 'Clipped' was one of the first Hull books that I read. The A63 Revisited might have died there.
And opening 'Clipped' was certainly an odd experience.
I have frequently described Danny as being one of the first great writers of the Facebook / Twitter generation both because he has the intimacy of Nick Hornby's delivery (with an added 'street' angle), and because of his complete disregard for the formalities of literature. He even litters his dialogues with "Ha!' or 'Ha! Ha!', so that proves he is straight off the FB page (don't remember any 'LOLs', though).
'Clipped' was early days, so not only did anybody picking up that book find random grammar and syntax being hurled at them from all directions, but the ground was decidedly shaky too, rocked by some traumatically shifting tenses.
Still, after a handful of pages I got my Danny-legs and didn't feel at all queazy after that. In fact I loved the book.
I did, however, beg Danny to let me get after his grammar and syntax, but Danny was having none of it. "What's done is done," he said, or words to that effect.
Then Danny lent me an early version of 'Get Some' - same old grammar and syntax, but what a fabulous book, maybe even better than 'Clipped'.
"OK, Danny, can I have a go at the grammar and syntax on this one?" I pleaded.
"Oh, go on, then," the great man conceded.
Danny is very polite in real life - a lovely guy - which made it very funny when Rich Sutherland was putting together the 'Writing on the Wall' exhibition at the Hull Truck Theatre and counted about 30 expletives within any two random pages of the book Rich wanted to feature in large lettering on posters.
So, I got my own way and was allowed to apply the grammar and syntax steam iron to Danny's elegant prose and, though I say it myself, it flattened out really very nicely.
Danny, you see, has an absolutely unerring eye for character and storyline, it's just that some of it looks like it has been written to be blasted across Facebook and Twitter.
One of the big surprises of 'Get Some', after 'Clipped', is how sensitively Danny handles the female characters. I don't think there was a single female character of note in 'Clipped', but this time around there are two really impressive ones - Emma and Sarah. I met Sarah at the Hull Truck exhibition launch recently (Danny has a tendency to name his characters after real people). I also met Chris Colton, Danny's cousin, who came to a horrible end on a toilet in 'Clipped'.
Another big surprise was how much I found myself savouring the language and the constant under-current of wry humour Danny has built into 'Get Some'. When you are editing a book, you get to read it rather a lot of times, but I found that I was enjoying Danny's wordsmithing more and more with each iteration.
The final big surprise was George Polley. George is an American writer living in Japan whose own writing is firmly anti-violence. Night Publishing has just published his 'The Old Man & The Monkey' which is a fervent allegorical plea against racism and towards greater understanding and friendship in the world. When 'Get Some' was all ready to go, I sent George a pdf copy, saying that I doubted it was his sort of thing but ..... The next day George wrote back saying he was fifty pages in and absolutely loving it - he continued to love it too, and he promptly pasted the proof onto Amazon.com.
What is not surprising about Danny's writing is that it draws in people who would not otherwise be tempted to pick up a book. What is perhaps more surprising is how many other writers on Night Reading and elsewhere really appreciate his work. Danny seems to have an extraordinarily wide appeal.
So, I urge you strongly to go out and buy a copy. Do yourself a favour, as they say. And you can find out more about it here:
The Daniel Birch profile on Night Publishing
The A63 Revisited
The Hull Truck 'Writing on the Wall' exhibition
George Polley on Night Publishing