Sunday, January 15, 2006

CONRAD WILLIAMS WALKS THE PLANK



I think Conrad Williams is one of the most exciting new writers to come along in quite some time. I say this on the basis of Use Once Then Destroy, his short story collection, and now London Revenant, his second novel (both books from Night Shade). Williams comes out of some of the same sensibilities and literary tastes that brought us writers like M. John Harrison and Nicholas Royle, but he is distinctly and firmly his own man. I love reading his prose. It is a wonderful mix of the gritty/dark and the colorful. Which is to say, the details he notices and chooses to use in his fiction--the way in which he expresses himself-- is lively and luminous no matter how tragic the events in the story. Williams' characters are often haunted and haunting, but they're also real people. It's also good to see someone using horror as a springboard for something complex and deep.

Except for the "not for the squeamish" bit, this review of London Revenant from Publishers Weekly does a good job of suggesting both the complexity and the uniqueness of Williams' work:

Not for the squeamish, this dark contemporary fantasy explores the rotting underbelly of London, where desperate 30-somethings live out meaningless lives devoted to sex, alcohol and perversity. Adam Buckley, a narcoleptic who suffers horrific dreams, gradually finds the line between waking and dreaming harder to distinguish. Events from his conscious life take on a surreal cast. He meets people from his dreams on the streets of London. Ordinary events transform into Grand Guignol and his friends become obsessed with a new game that threatens their sanity and leaves them covered in unnatural sores. Terrified of the London Underground for reasons unknown, Adam dreams of traveling its many disused and dangerous tunnels, while a madman begins a reign of terror, pushing Londoners under the wheels of the Underground carriages. An unreliable narrator, who's often unclear on what's real and what isn't, Adam is the perfect vehicle for this stylish and bloody novel. Williams (Head Injuries) moves seamlessly back and forth between realism and the fantastic, capably bringing his tale to a murderous and apocalyptic ending.


In addition to the interview below, I am (with Ann's help) in the process of interviewing Conrad for SF Site.

Jeff


CONRAD WILLIAMS WALKS THE PLANK--DEFIANTLY



Why should readers pick up your book(s) as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book(s)?
Because my little boys are starving. Imagine them. Imagine their big, moist eyes turned up at you as you peruse the W section at the local Waterstones. Can you hear them? 'Buy Daddy's book... oh, please, buy Daddy's book.'

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
Christ, no.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
Only if you eat it.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
Not as horrified as I'll be, nor suffer as many years in therapy as I'll have to, when I get around to reading Harry Potter to my kids.

If your book were an animal instead of a book, what animal would it be--and why?
A blue whale with an eight-foot erection. Just because.

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
Writing the blurbs for books by Dan Brown containing acrostics that read: THIS IS A PILE OF SHITE.

1 Comments:

At 5:46 AM, Anonymous PaulJessup said...

I was looking at this book while wandering around the nightshade books site. Thought about buying it- but hadn't found any reviews about it.

I'm going to grab it now. Not because of the hungry kids- They can always feed themselves mushrooms they find outside. Or maybe poaching the king's deer or something.

because it sounds good, and I'm lad I was able to find some info on it.

 

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