Enigmatic in title and content, Headway, the first novel by Kit Battenberg is
many things

An existential novel addressing – sometimes aggressively confronting – the human condition, whilst gesticulating dramatically towards a person’s power for great, emancipatory acts of rebellion and freedom. At the same time, it explores the rarity of such occasions, the common and uncommon complicity in our own internships – not that people can’t change, just that they never do.

It is also a confessional autobiography detailing the last days of city worker and Advertising Creative, Martin Stone. An unreliable narrator, stumbling through the inner workings of the unreliable protagonist, as he tries desperately to make sense of the impossible and competing tasks of tackling an advertising pitch aimed at the entire world and attempting to fill an emotional void left by his absent mother. The novel is italicised to give the narrating text two distinct characters. There are also
eerie meta-textual references that indicate the title is stolen from within its own contents. The reader is encouraged to understand the novel as a grim memoir.

The narrative is littered with social commentary indicating that some long since passed point of no return has been crossed and forgotten, with the often repeated lines: ‘Not now. Not anymore.’ Change is observed and begrudged in a modernist prose.

Headway is increasingly exciting to read as it progresses. Martin Stone, an unlikeable anti-hero makes you dislike yourself for willing him to succeed as he lurches from one disaster to the next and is finally forced to confront his ghosts in the culmination of his misdeeds. Stone is shadowed by an entry level graduate called Julian, who is quickly corrupted by the older hand but in the end manages to navigate his way out of an industry that crushes dissent, free thought and human spirit, forcing anyone resisting the path of quickest dissent onto the kerb. Julian confronts Martin with the futility of their shared profession and shows his former mentor the only way out of the madness is through.

Headway is available on Amazon Kindle.


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