"If Billy was about being drunk, no love, then much of Johnny is about being drunk on love, a love that becomes an obsession, that becomes a madness, and how far that madness could take you into the deepest hole, a fucked up Plato’s cavern showing the same shadow play over and over, “It’s the same old song, but with a different meaning since you been gone,” on and on. But. Tangent. William Goyen was once asked in an interview what starts him writing. He replied, "It starts with trouble, you don’t think it starts with peace, do you?""
"I didn't always know why I scribbled what I did, what relevance it had, but I scribbled it anyway. Before long the entire ceiling was a scrapbook of madness."
"I wanted to make the reader feel the same sense of disgust that I felt for myself back then, and while Billy’s acts are not necessarily my acts, the truth is in the repulsion, which is why I chose not to turn the camera eye away. And yes, I understand that this might put some readers off. But it was a gamble I was prepared to make."
"Did I make what I wanted to make, in the way I wanted to make it? If the answer is yes, then move on two fingers raised and make more, because there is no petrol like it. The old is important to lean on, the new, important to make."
"Switch off the voices. Shut out the naysayers. Do what’s right for you and make something."
"Of particular note was the lyrical and stirring performance by Dean Lilleyman and Beth Aveyard, who fused loquacious spoken word with haunting folk music, creating a dreamy atmosphere that left the entire room in stunned silence."
"His increasingly complex character provides an emotional and shocking account, while Lilleyman’s defiance of convention shows how engaging writing can be when boundaries are subverted."
"Put it this way, a great novel doesn't end after you have read the last page. It reaches out after publication and plants its own mythology in the world. This is the highest achievement of Lilleyman's debut. I recommend: read this book."
"He's messed it up because he was born. The sincerity and honesty throughout has all led up to make the hardest of readers a wreck."
"He is the ultimate underdog, I so want Billy to win. The reader is spared no secrets, it is all laid out for us to make our own judgement."
"The story is so dark and sordid but the writing soars, it gives a tenderness to the story that is totally unexpected."
"He read an excerpt from his novel, 'Billy and the Devil', and had the crowd eating out of his hand."
"This is independent writing of the highest quality."
"The last chapters of the story felt like being in the centre of a decomposing thunder cloud. It’s brilliantly raw and feels real."
"He has a strong style and clear stage presence... an amazing reading that left a lasting impression."
"A stunning debut novel and some of the most inventive story writing I've ever come across."
"A story told in one breath that knocks the wind out of you."
"This is perhaps one of the strongest pieces in the zine."
"If you’re looking for a novel that will blow your mind with its linguistic dexterity, its riotous and carnivalesque humour, and its unsparing exposure of the dark underbelly of a seemingly normal English village, then The Gospel According to Johnny Bender is a must."
"This is perfect for those that love indie fiction, a stray from the mainstream formula."
"This was a very weird book. Like very, very weird."
"How it jumps around from chapter to chapter, from first person, to third, to second, to being like a script, to every sentence beginning with ‘because’, and all at a rapid pace that rushes by as the characters life does."
"A true modern day masterpiece that has been far too overlooked."