Who this book talks to
You’re probably not anything like the people in this book. These are people who aren’t doing so well in life’s great scramble to the top. People with issues. Actually, they are not really nice people. They are self-centred and emotionally destructive to everyone around them, each in their own unique, refined way. You might recognise flashes of them in people you know.


But aren’t other people’s lives interesting, when they look the same at first glance, but underneath are differently and strangely made? Understanding them might be rewarding. And that’s what this book explores, along the way of an increasingly urgent story.

There is also a… a speaker, it might be best to say. As well as being murderously destructive himself, he’s crazy, and stepping away from the bonds of logic adds a whole other dimension. He believes the human species is nearing an extinction event that involves some balance of positive and negative forces in people. He also believes the planet is approaching an extinction event, when human disruption of its eco systems will reach a tipping point. He believes he is on a mission to accelerate human species extinction, so it happens before we tip the planet into eco-collapse. He (and he believes 99 others like him) are doing this to save their species, which he claims is one of two other non-physical species co-inhabiting the planet. Lots of crazy people are conceptually and verbally fluent, even high level intelligent, and that can make them really interesting. This one attempts to prove himself by explaining some the puzzles of history and the universe, and he’s pretty good at it, weaving fact and fantasy into a new tapestry that might beguile a lesser reader than you.

There are a couple of people, trapped into roles in the story, who are not at all toxic, but are eternal losers in our free-market of life. One is a physical cripple who can never have what she wants and one is a permanent failure in the business of life, who sees himself as fa more crippled than her. You might be interested to explore how losers cope, day after day, why they bother even to continue to live.

As the story rushes towards its terminal event, you might start to think that at least some of the toxic ones have at least the possibility of redeeming features. Words like love and redemption pop up once or twice, but there’s enough deeply brutal violence, physical and emotional, to pretty much paper right over them. Gathered together, the crowd force of their evil is surely just too toxic. Yet, in the arguments of the crazy one, saving the world’s human inhabitants is down to them. And the losers. If you are a gambler, you might not find these odds not so interesting.

Who else might get something out of this book?

If you sometimes doubt the moral order of things, the stories of these people might feed your discontent.

If you sometimes tire of the push to soften and sanitise everything, to make everything homogenously political correct and nice, with wholesome resolutions, reading this book trigger the emotions of forgotten temptations to break the rules and strike out at some vacuous clown who richly deserves it.

Actually, if you’re a little less than holy yourself, if you have stuff you keep tightly inside, some of the flashes of recognition you get may be about yourself, not just people you know. Maybe you will appreciate the danger of thinking about these things.
Overall, it’s a story of people trapped in a messy, contradictory, harsh world of lonely secret desperation, where people make it up as seems fit at the time, because they don’t know what to do, how to break through; where the struggle to touch another human being can seem impossible of success, but sometimes it happens anyway.

The story

A young couple. Beautiful, alluring, tearing each other apart with emotional savagery that is intended to hurt and scar.

Linked peripherally, Geoffrey, one of life’s perennial losers; once sort of endearing in a bumbling puppy sort of way, now getting too old for such indulgence.

Then his father, a famous motivational speaker, promoter of habits of success like a gym tyrant, is suddenly, catastrophically, catapulted into failure in his marriage, his business, his life – but he’s still ready to inflict his needs on others. Like the young Catholic virgin who appears in his sights. Only she might turn out, beneath her careful veneer, to be far tougher, more at-core selfish, more indifferent about using and tossing, than even he is.

We are following the vortexes of emotional destruction each of these people weaves, tracking emerging connections between them, to the background whisperings of an unidentified, doubtless crazy speaker who claims to be facilitating these links, tightening then into a single circle. Clearly though, he is seriously, clinically crazy, with his retellings of history and his story about hastening the extinction of humans, for the sake of the planet’s other inhabitants.

Geoffrey reconnects to his grandfather, a legendary destroyer hiding his evil away in the desert, and so releases his venom back into the world.

As they each plot the destruction of whoever they blame, the circle expands to include one of the most twisted, toxic lives ever lived, the child-destroyer turned addict and prostitute whose life work is debasement, herself and everyone around her.
But she has an accidental daughter, Yshta; accidental pregnancy and genetic accident, a wheelchair cripple for life. The connection Yshta makes with the bumbling Geoffrey is not part of the plot. In fact, it leads to a counter-plot, a feeble effort to turn back the evil gathering around them.

As our crazy speaker assures us, a couple of loser-cripples have no hope against the self-multiplying destructiveness he has curated. Redemption and love are words that bubble up rarely and quickly get sucked back down. If he is right, the extinction that comes eventually to every species might be coming a little early to homo sapiens.

The people

The six…

Janis. Deeply alluring, committed to exotic sexual fantasy, committed to her own pleasure and increasingly finding it in the subjugation of men.

Jeremy. Beautiful, sensuous releaser of hidden passions who can take a woman beyond herself, who cultivates mystery while unflinchingly acting on his belief that everything is meaningless – and running from a debilitating memory.

Elmore. The business success, the motivational speaker, who mercilessly exposes people to their own weaknesses, even his own son, then abruptly crumbles into the person he despises, that perhaps he always was. Even then, he seeks to rescue his own life by entrapping others.

Vivienne. Catholic virgin daughter of an Italian business family patriarch and community leader, anointed heir to it all and enticed by the power and recognition, but first distracted by the need to explore another, darker and more tangled part of herself and ready to use – and discard – whoever she needs for what she wants.

Olaf. Crude wastrel destroyer of businesses and families; liar, cheat, drunkard, fornicator, user of prostitutes, foul mouthed and filled with hateful spite that’s rarely justified. He doesn’t bother with even a nod to decent appearance or pretence of belonging to a humanity he despises.

Nameoko. Terror child born with an ancient evil soul, lifelong addict, abuser, prostitute, whose almost sole interest is debasing everyone to her level.

…the losers who somehow link them:

Jeremy. One of life’s eternal losers, an ageing puppy dog with nothing to offer and no future, a pathetic emotional cripple even to himself.

Yshta. The physical cripple, who might have had the determination to succeed in life, if she wasn’t barred by limitations.

…and the self-proclaimed manipulator:

Gathering. Well, you’ll have to make up your own mind about him.

The issues

The headline theme is the harm that people do to their own lives and the lives of others. By itself this is little more than an observation. It is in the unpicking of the how that has useful meaning.


Ganggrout is one of the greatest sins of humankind, that Elmore Elmore excels in. His need to ganggrout is so overwhelming, her will even consume his own son.  Read the blog about ganggrout.


Tagslew is the translation of a desire to touch and embrace, to be open to love, into hitting and even killing. Its most obvious appearance here is in the story of Sid, who is homosexual. Read the blog about tagslew.

Winners and losers

Winning is fundamental to how our society works.

Winning requires losers. Often, lots of them. Without losers, there can be no winners. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Read more about winners and losers in the blog.


John Lennon may not have invented the phrase “crippled inside” but he did bring it to a generation. And in Toxic People, Gathering there are crippled people in abundance. Some of them are being relied on to save a desperate situation. Not a great bet, really.

Read more about crippledom in the blog.