Bad to the Bone
by James Waddington [Dedalus 1998] isbn 1 873982 68 2
Out of nowhere, on a subject I give not a big rat's arse about, here comes one of my books of the year... the clarity of Kubrick's battle scenes in `Spartacus`... an outrageous murder yarn told in a style that can combine paragraphs of perfect prose with abrupt descents into Peter Sellers franglais... a comic masterpiece, a leg-pull on the Flann O'Brien model.
Brian Case, Time Out
I was entranced, educated and entertained by a rich comic stew containing love, sex, speed, power, drugs and death... The women are wise, practical, articulate, and erotically inventive... elegant, engrossing, funny and civilised.
Peter Buckman, Sunday Telegraph
The most memorable cycling fiction since Alfred Jarry upset everybody with The Crucifixion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race.
Philip Baker, Sunday Times
He has you riding on the shoulder of the race leader, slathering like a horse up a near-vertical incline, or plummeting from the mountaintop, your pedals grazing the tarmac as you hit the curves. Kate Glasspool, The Guardian This is the first great cycling novel and it tackles the big question of modern sport: at what point do you sacrifice your health and sanity for one brief, drug-fuelled victory. A vivid thriller, parts of which stick in the mind for weeks.
The Mirror
The story follows ace wheelie Akil Sáenz and his ravishing Perlita through a plot of almost mescaline weirdness as someone starts bumping off the riders in the big race... Candid, bizarre, and great fun.
Ben Farrington, Literary Review
James Waddington's excellent, gripping and fantastic Bad to the Bone hits the spot with its wonderfully exotic language and its obsession with bodily function. Cycle Sport
Setting a blackly comic novel in the commercialised world of sports cycling already marks out Waddington's hilarious and surreal book as something different. But when we are also presented with sharp insights into drugs, health, exploitation and sanity, it's quickly apparent that this is a book in danger of biting off more than it can chew. Triumphantly, however, Waddington makes his breathless narrative a riveting read... clearly a unique talent to watch.
Barry Forshaw, Crime Time
The humour is broad, at times scurrilous, and contrasts pleasingly with the lyricism of the race scenes; earthbound vulgar humans versus angels in flight. Ken Neil, The Herald (Glasgow) Makes [cycling's] boredom, its horror and its pain murderous, and in doing so is furiously persuasive about the sport and the modern obsession with trying to bind man to machine... a kind of Frankenstein on wheels. Helen Rumbelow, The Times
A stylish satire on the cult of fitness, the cult of superstardom and the moral limits to which its adherents will go... a mixture of the fluently cerebral and the downbeat demotic... [the] cycling passages are intense and passionate and full of terse and informative asides.
John Murray, London Magazine
It's the story of a serial killer, a mephistophelian team doctor who creates greatness in riders by exploiting their desire to be best - then literally sucks that ability from them. Waddington raises questions about the corrupted heroism that makes already brilliant athletes pop pills, or in this case, resort to more mysterious means, in search of that extra kilometre per hour... [His] descriptions of racing, and they are many and enthralling, have the rhythm and intensity of poetry. You're riding with your wheel an inch from the author's, carried along by the surge of the pack, normal people and life no more than a muted clamour on the roadside.
Joe Cogan, Independent on Sunday
Surely the best insider novel on sport since `The Hustler`.
Preview, Major Fiction, Time Out
Parfait thriller, son roman, aussi sérieux dans le fond que désopilant dans la forme, est une espèce d'épopée... Portraitiste de grande classe, qu'il place ses héros dans une scène comique ou qu'il evoque la mort, c'est toujours avec un humour des plus britannique.
Pierre-Robert Leclercq, Le Monde
Nous vous laissons découvrir l'hallucinante dernière étape, sur un circuit en plastique transparent, avec à la clé le bouchon de champagne du vainqueur qui lui monte à la tête. Adieu, Boucle cruelle, mais que c'était beau, comme l'écrivait Antoine Blondin, cité pieusement in fine par ce diable d'Anglais: >>.... Dominique Durand, Canard Enchainé
Un tour en Enfer n'est pas un livre sur dopage. C'est le livre du dopage comme carburant de l'orgueil, cet incroyable orgueil qui projette l'homme vers la gloire d'un instant au péril de sa raison.
La Liberté