Review: Shag Carpet Action

Go on, get dirty. Matthew Firth’s Shag Carpet Action is raw, raunchy and ready to make you blush.

This collection of short stories pushes readers into the kink of ennui, how idle hands make the devil’s work of base urges. The more disengaged the character, the more bawdy the fantasy.  These stories illustrate how a body at stasis inspires the mind to race. From midnight oily Greek wrestling, debating the merits of Brazilian waxing on public transit, undergoing a vasectomy to hairy nipples and masturbating with action figures, Shag Carpet Action chronicles urban legends of sexual debauchery and desire. The writing is stubborn – it forces the reader to put niceties aside and consider what a night out with a coked-up garbageman would entail.

The cornerstone of the collection is “Dog Fucker Blues,” a novella set during heated labour negotiations that are polarizing the workforce. It’s a glimpse into the desolate attitude within monotonous city operations, but also the “good-vs-evil” division in union ranks pulled between the more chaste pursuit of solidarity and hedonistic self-absorption.

Although the level of discord is hyperbolized, the politics and violence are noteworthy in a curious way, particularly as Firth is a trade unionist by day.  There is so much brash realism, you’ll swear some pages feel sticky. But with the title “Shag Carpet Action,” you can’t say you weren’t warned.  So go on, get dirty. You know you want to.

A line that stuck: “Although, looking at her, there was little chance anyone would confuse her for a hottie – an Estonian shot-putter, maybe.” 

Shag Carpet Action, Matthew Firth, Anvil Press, 2011. ISBN: 1897535848