Little Green Man
Pub date: 2nd August 2001
In Armitage's first novel, Little Green Man, thirty-something Barney is out of work and bored. Estranged from his wife and autistic son, Barney finds himself harking back to the glory days of his seventies childhood, and the bonds shared with his school friends Tony Football, Winkie, Pompus and Stubbs: 'your mates with their dozy nicknames' as his wife, Kim, calls them.
Rummaging through his parents' attic, amongst the Subbuteo figures and Scalextric cars, Barney finds the very thing to bring them all back together again. The Little Green Man is a precious jade statuette, which the boys enacted dares to possess. Whoever had temporary ownership of the statue, controlled the game.
Armed with the Little Green Man and a valuation certificate for £750,000, Barney resurrects the childhood game of do-or-dare, but this time around the stakes are a little higher. As the dares become wilder, we learn the truth behind the boys' nicknames and discover exactly what kind of men they have grown into. The powerful totem of the Little Green Man causes secrets from the past to be uncovered, and the friends' childhood grudges steadily mutate into adult enmity and violence. But who is controlling the game now?
Simon Armitage's first novel is a brilliant and razor-sharp dissection of the dynamics of male friendship. He examines the true nature of the ties that bind and the mind-games and manipulation that can lurk behind the facade of friendship – all in 'the salty prose of an original poetic voice' (Melvyn Bragg, Observer).