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Geoff Nicholson's intelligent look at lunacy and literature.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Bedlam Burning (Hardcover)
GN does his usual thorough job of examining enclosed worlds and mini-societies with their own rules and mores, as he did in The Food Chain, and what happens in the transition period as outsiders gain entry, and go thru various rites of passage. Gregory Collins, even in his down-to-earth 'northern man' persona, is a self-confessed grotesque, and when he is asked to supply a jacket photo for the cover of his first novel, he enlists the help of Mike Smith, a colleague from university whose mugshot Gregory covets as a selling point. This preoccupation with image heralds one of the book's central obsessions and begins a deception that leads Mike into the shadowy world of a modern Bedlam, Brighton's Kincaid Clinic, where he finds himself, most of the time, a willing prisoner. GN examines the vanity at the heart of writing and celebrity, and the opportunities both afford, and what's more does it in a style honed now to perfection, tho never slick. Bedlam Burning is a story that builds up thru sadness and frustration, but its bright humour busts out at just the right moments. Set in the 70s, when we were on the turning point of cynicism and irony and could still distinguish between the wirthy and the worthless (when there was still, to quote Mike, a 'perverse principle' to the burning of certain books) there is a refreshing approach to the movements and images of the times that rescues the book from being a mere period piece. Great stuff.