If JG Ballard and Angela Carter played a game of Chinese Whispers with Anaïs Nin and William Burroughs, it might end up something like Richard Godwin‘s latest release — a wild and surreal ride that veers from cold horror to steamy kink and offers a unique satire of modern life in bizarre form. Whatever you want to call it, you won’t put it down until you finish it.
Meaningful Conversations out soon from Noir Nation manages to surprise not only because it openly defies any acknowledgement of genre conventions but also because it still uses our expectations to lead us up to the wrong doors and then fling them open, leaving us startled.
Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, I was wrong.
This is satire of the most biting variety, a cold dissection of modern, privileged people coddled by their privileges — remote, unfeeling except for their own minor sufferings, greedy and callous. If that sounds too rough, consider also that Godwin’s dry wit makes the lacerations — if not enjoyable — vastly entertaining and absolutely riveting. And like no other book he’s written. I love surprises, even when they are as cruel as this one sometimes can be — mad, bad and dangerous.
Just how it ought to be.
GUNS OF BRIXTON
Paul. D. Brazill
When the simple task of collecting a briefcase from a Northern courier in his London lock-up results in a dead Geordie gangster there’s only one thing that Kenny Rogan can do…dress up in drag and rob a jewellers with ‘Big’ Jim and hope everything turns out okay!
From the pen of Paul D Brazill comes a whole host of larger-than-life characters, a sharp plot and the kind of humour you wouldn’t let your granny read…but don’t just take our word for it.
I was a big fan of the short story this novella sprang from — it may have been one of the first things I read by Brazill, though at this point is difficult to tell as I pretty much read everything Mr B publishes. What can I say? He makes me laugh. And wince at the same time: there’s a lot of blackly comic moments that involve some outlandish violence and horror. Along the way Brazil name checks a plethora of pop culture riffs, everything from cheesy pop songs to well-trod bad jokes and weird-but-true trivia about the Old Smoke. At heart it’s an interlace of heists-gone-wrong with unexpected twists that prove satisfying.
You may want a score card to keep track of the widening cast of characters, but it’s a helluva ride through some fascinating locations with memorable creations who feel implausibly vivid. Gratuitous Bobby Goldsboro, but that’s life.