This is my first Cormac McCarthy novel and in all honesty it’ll probably be my last. At present I have no desire or intentiDepression Trigger warning:
This is my first Cormac McCarthy novel and in all honesty it’ll probably be my last. At present I have no desire or intention of ever reading McCarthy’s work again. This isn’t a reflection of the quality of his writing, which is in fact, wonderfully creative. Staggeringly so. McCarthy employs a very simple, but wholly immersive narrative style in this book. His characters are nameless. Cormac gives them a gender and a rough age, but that’s about it. His sentence structure is stripped down to the bare bones, in that he discards conventional use of punctuation and grammar, in favour of a flowing, short structure, cut with the occasional longer, more poetic monologue from the narrator’s point of view.
This approach is hugely effective. The short, sparse structure reflects and amplifies the bleakness of the world he has placed his poor characters into. The longer monologues are beautiful, insightful and heart-breaking at times; these moments shine a bright light onto the broken structure between, making the shadows they cast and struggles described in them all the more dark…. inescapable. Aside from the skill in the rudimentary narrative and prose, Cormac employs some of the most immersive, descriptive settings and conveyance of the complexities of emotions his characters suffer through I’ve ever experienced.
This book is so wonderfully written, it is simply beautiful, the use of language to convey such hardship, such stark, stripped back humanity and beauty, but by God, it is bleak as fuck, and the most emotionally-draining piece of literature I’ve encountered. The world of The Road is so very bleak, so lacking in joy or comfort or hope. Reading this book was a trial for me, I didn’t want to continue, but its beauty and humanity and raw splendour dragged me along despite myself.
If you are in any way prone to depression or periods of low mods, I would recommend avoiding this book, at least until happier times. It is a marvel, it is simply one of the most staggeringly gorgeous and horrifically desperate pieces of fiction I’ve read. I’ll never read this book again, but the gap it let in me will remain forever. ...more
With his second offering, Robert Cowan has avoided any treading of water and built on the best of his debut, The Search for Ethan, developing his skilWith his second offering, Robert Cowan has avoided any treading of water and built on the best of his debut, The Search for Ethan, developing his skillset substantially. With shifting narrative, complex and engaging characters, and an entertaining plot peppered with occasionally acerbic humour, Cowan’s sophomore offering shows none of the signs of that difficult second album. Instead Cowan’s lovely writing simply entertains and immerses the reader into a very real-feeling setting and into the lives of his very relatable characters. In Daydreams and Devils, we see a more confident Cowan, gaining his stride and stretching his literary legs, culminating in a novel that significantly betters his first novel, which itself was a very good book. Cowan deserves a larger readership and with offerings such as this book, he’s well on his way to producing an excellent body of work for new readers to discover and binge on. ...more
Wannabes is a wonderfully nasty, unexpectedly warm, funny, insightful, and clever satire that should feel like a fusion of John Niven’s Kill Your FrieWannabes is a wonderfully nasty, unexpectedly warm, funny, insightful, and clever satire that should feel like a fusion of John Niven’s Kill Your Friends and Second Coming, except that Logan’s Wannabes is much funnier, infinitely more skilfully-written and wholly more relatable than Niven’s work.
Logan’s writing in invigorating, inventive, wholly engaging and oozes satirical insights throughout. This is a writer unhampered by over-editing or expectations who simply writes the very best stories he has to tell. Logan’s passion for his work screams from the page. By the book’s end he has managed to pull the reader into the murky, classy, imaginatively filthy worlds of the music business, Heaven and Hell, and the psyche of a predatory serial killer. Logan writes these characters extremely vividly and engages his reader so skilfully, that he or she comes to care about even the filthiest, most depraved of them, simply due to his passionate writing and his skill in presenting many-layered characters, whom Logan makes you empathise with and invest in, despite their flaws and sometimes crass behaviours. With Wannabes Logan is an exciting new voice and joins a new breed of Indie and Hybrid authors, such Ryan Bracha, Gerard Brennan, Keith Nixon and Craig Furchtenicht, in producing quality, engaging, hugely imaginative and original, modern-feeling literature that oozes skill and creativity. For me, Logan is my literary find of 2015 so far. ...more
I wouldn't want to be Bracha. Not for anything. I feel sorry for him in the most profound way. It's not the vacant expression sketched permanently onI wouldn't want to be Bracha. Not for anything. I feel sorry for him in the most profound way. It's not the vacant expression sketched permanently on his face that elicits my sympathy for him. Nor the sagging, sweat-stained moob impression on his sad oasis-esque polo shirt.
It's not even the resigned way he carries himself, like only the most wretched shit-stain of a man who's accepted his slide into deep ugliness can affect. Not even the rancid, gamey oily pungent Stench of his grimy Breath elicits my Pity. None of those are a patch on Bracha’s one true inescapable obstacle. The sad fact is that Bracha has written his finest novel to date and will most likely never scratch at those heights again let alone improve on it.
That's what I'm telling myself at any rate, but the truth is that Bracha will do what he always does and go on developing his skills and pushing himself further from any comfort zone he could slip into. Ryan Bracha is that sort of cheeky wide-o who asks for a blowy straight after he's been knocked back for a tit squeeze. He has no shame and no sense of limitations.
Unwilling to restrain himself to a single comfortable genre or writing style, Bracha has shoved all desire to settle into a formulaic groove aside and elevated his writing one more time. In The Switched, Bracha 'switches' effortlessly but never gratuitously between first and third person and present and past tense, as the story demands.
Many writers would struggle to maintain consistency with such changes, or overuse the mechanism, Ryan effortlessly (it’s not but it reads like it is) employs the shifting narrative and perspective to add urgency, humour and purpose to each scene.
Taking all the creativeness of Strangers are Just Friends You Haven't Killed Yet and follow-up Tomorrow's Chip Paper, Bracha throws in a hefty helping of technical skill- earned by hundreds of hours writing The Dead Man Series- to temper his surging imagination and desire to put his characters through the wringer for your entertainment.
What we have in The Switched is the perfect blend of creative flair with technical skill from a writer who is at the peak of his powers...so far.
The biggest development, for me, in Ryan's writing with The Switched is that Relationships are now front and centre and the driving force for the novel. Where in previous books, the story was the driving force for his characters, in The Switched, Bracha’s characters drive the story. The characterisation and development is exceptionally good in this novel.
That the sweetest, most compelling and real relationship in the book is between two men, one of whom is a woman inhabiting her partner's former body, is a testament to the author's new-found ability to expose the tender weakness of the true individual rather than the shell of the person.
Reading The Switched holds all the manky, unsettling, thrilling insidiousness of playing a game of 'just the tip' and leaves the reader wondering just how much more Ryan Bracha is still capable of." ...more
Keith Nixon is a writer’s writer. Reading his work is an absolute joy and always a lesson in how to take your writing to another level. The Corpse rolKeith Nixon is a writer’s writer. Reading his work is an absolute joy and always a lesson in how to take your writing to another level. The Corpse role is a grand addition to Nixon’s increasingly impressive, cross-genre back catalogue.
Tense, intriguing and pacey as a starved greyhound, Nixon’s latest offering, billed as a police-procedural, but really just a very, very good crime-thriller from my POV, is a showcase for the experience Nixon has gained from writing tirelessly and being a genre-hoor. The narrative changes and time-shifts are lovely, skilful and effective, never gratuities or for effect, they propel the story. This is something only seasoned, passionate writers like Nixon accomplish.
Throughout the novel the reader is given very few clues about the narrator in the past, adding to the pull of the story and veiling the person’s identity throughout. Having said that, Nixon is not a ‘pull it out the rabbit hat’ guy. The clues are all there. Upon the reveal a second reading is demanded. This is true of very few stories, and comparable to The Sixth Sense in that regard, only much more intelligent and engaging.
Unlike most anthologies, Rogue leads the reader through a series of torrid, murky dirty trysts, each refreshing and building your interest as a new w
Unlike most anthologies, Rogue leads the reader through a series of torrid, murky dirty trysts, each refreshing and building your interest as a new writer takes the lead and pulls you through his filthy little journey.
There are far too many examples of gorgeous writing on display by this team of writers to mention all; but for me, Furchtenicht, (gratuity, dead-on insights) Nixon, (always a pleasure to read keith's inspired Russian, bampot) and Bracha (endlessly creative and willing to stretch himself); shone a tad brighter and gave moments of genius amidst a collection of extremely talented writers, all producing their finest work to date. There's not a single author on this project I won't be checking out in future.
Sant, Douglas and the lad Bracha have brought a large number of very different writers together, this doesn't always work, like too many creative musicians in a super-group, but when it does work, as is the case with this anthology, it really really does make you long for a larger platform for Team Indie to share their Manky words on.
Near to The Knuckle has a fan for life in me.
You can find the Near to the Knuckle anthology and the authors involved at Amazon ...more
Cards on the table. I’m unashamedly biased in the following review. I love Roman epics and devour anything smelling even vaguely of sandals and red roCards on the table. I’m unashamedly biased in the following review. I love Roman epics and devour anything smelling even vaguely of sandals and red robes. I’m equally invested in Keith Nixon’s steamrolling writing career, which has been mainly focused on humorous, punchy, smart crime novels to date.
Keith’s attention to detail, laborious research and flowing narrative makes the follow-up to Eagle’s Shadow a triumphant return to the world he’s fleshing out in the most subtle, but immersing manner. Writing a sequel comes with its own difficulties. Will the readers like where I take the story? Am I staying true to the characters but allowing their development? Is it as good as the first?
Yes. Absolutely. No, it’s much, much better.
In Eagle’s Blood, Keith stretches his literary legs and pushes his skills to new levels. Danger, intrigue, betrayal, Romans, brother-hood and battles. All are presented with the confidence of a writer who has found a new voice in Historical fiction, one that both compliments and surpasses his enviable skills in his more familiar crime/thriller genre. At times one would swear that Nixon has a window to the past.
Striding genre isn’t an easy skill for a writer to develop, few manage it effectively; even fewer make it appear effortless. Nixon’s return to Caradoc’s world screams of confidence and a refusal to be constrained by one writing style.
A wonderful novel reminiscent of the humour, passion, detail and scalding human stories that so pervaded the HBO series ‘Rome’. ...more