'Went out, got pissed. Same shit, different day.' Aberalaw, a tiny South Wales valley village where nobody ever arrives and nobody ever leaves.
The new police chief has declared war on recreational drugs, resulting in an eighteen-month drought. The party-loving wives and girlfriends of local punk band, The Boobs, are getting desperate, both for drugs and thrills: Ellie, factory girl with dreams of a better life in New York; Rhiannon, hairdresser with a taste for violence and designer clothes and Sian, unappreciated, obsessive compulsive mother of three. Into their lives, enter the languid dark stranger, Johnny: Englishman, drug dealer and shameless seducer.
In the space of just a few months, three women's lives will be changed forever. Prize-winning writer, Rachel Trezise, dissects the morals and mores of a small Welsh village community with a scalpel-sharp pen and an incisive wit.
"Life isn’t fair in the tiny South Wales village of Aberalaw. This is the Valleys, a cultural no man’s land, too Welsh for the English and not Welsh enough for the Welsh; where women wear the trousers not because of feminism but because the men are so indolent; where talking about your personal problems is anathema, but talking about other people’s is a form of entertainment."
"The three women in the book are factory girl Ellie, 25, who got a degree and got Andy. He wants marriage and children where Ellie just wants America. There’s mixed race Rhiannon who’s nearing 40 and has her own hairdresser’s shop. She’s rough and ready for anything. Then there’s Sian, still beautiful but an unappreciated mother of three. They’re the party-loving wags of The Boobs, a mostly forgotten punk band in pursuit of thrills and drugs, though the police have clamped down on the drugs. The author then throws Johnny into the mix, newly arrived from England with bags of drugs, who is au fait with the dark art of seduction."
"To cut a long story, there’s no antidote for the age-old quandary of good girls falling for bad boys, especially in Aberalaw, where plastic surgery, sarcasm and narcotics all numb the pain. Trezise opens up the lives of her characters with surgical skill, making you wince as well as laugh. This novel – her first won the Orange Futures Prize – is dedicated to Gwyn Thomas, the writer from the Rhondda whose novels told of the 20th century in the English-speaking valleys of South Wales. Trezise walks her own walk along the same route. You may not enjoy this book if you are too close to it all; it could be a home truth too many. But it could also lead you to admiring a fine writer and her incisive insights, through disintegration to a sort of salvation."
The Western Mail
"...written with great energy and verbal skill and its characters ... are immediately engaging."
Sydney Morning Herald
"Trezise sings a sharp and suffocating song."
"On the one hand Sixteen Shades of Crazy finds Trezise sticking to her literary award-winning formula; unflinching yarns about the lifestyles, aspirations and collective hustle of working class characters … from her native Welsh valleys. On the other, her use of multiple narrative voices – switching between three women whose friendship seems fuelled by convenience rather than closeness – ramps up the interest factor of an already highly readable book."