The Brandy of the Damned Paperback – 1 Sep 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a bit like a fairy story. In fairy stories magical events occur which exist outside the scope of normal reality. Trees have spirits. The venerable stranger grants wishes. The hero is lead into a mysterious and often threatening world where strange things happen.
The Brandy of the Damned has something of that quality. There are a series of magical events, in the form of little blue bottles which appear intermittently throughout the story, which contain chapters from a future bible. Various things occur which exist outside the scope of normal reality. But there is a light touch to all of this, and we never find our credulity strained.
Our three characters - all ex members of a band which broke up twenty years ago - are on a journey around the coastline of Britain. But, while the place names stay the same, you soon realise it is a mythical Britain we are travelling through, a Britain of the subconscious, and that the events are occurring on a magical or a symbolic level.
However, just like a fairy story, we find ourselves going along with the logic of this. It is not handled in a clumsy way. The plot twists are frequent enough and surprising enough to make us want to keep on reading, and the characters are real enough for us to believe in them.Read more ›
Towards the end of the story, I felt I had become quite wed to the road trip and I didn't want it to end. But this wasn't the greatest gift that the story delivered. It seemed to me that the author had squared up to 'reality' and given it a knowing wink. I was left thinking - what if the world being described here isn't an alternative - it's just the reality that we ignore every day.
I'm probably wide of the mark - but that's the selfish joy of reading a book and being left alone to draw your own conclusions.
Although "Brandy Of The Damned" appears to ask more questions than it answers, it is the very fact of understanding what the question was in the first place that makes this book such an utterly astonishing achievement. JMR Higgs has mastered the skill of getting into people's heads, straight to the crux of their thoughts.
The book veers from outrageously funny to painfully poignant. The story flows quickly and is written using a device (that I won't give away here) that makes it uniquely possible to empathise which each of the three central characters. And empathy is really what the point of this book is. Because with every page turn comes a deeper understanding of oneself... one that has come by looking at life from JMR Higgs' perspective. The plot is driven along by a series of mysterious events and situations, which helps make the book a page turner that the reader will want to devour as quickly as possible.
I thoroughly recommend this book.
At one point towards the end, I felt like I'd been shown one of nature's great hidden secrets. Surely there can be no higher recommendation than that. Buy this book and become part of the early groundswell of recommendation which is sure to propel it from Kindle to Kindle to Kindle.
The three friends - Will, Russ and Penny - take turns telling their stories as they progress around the coast, experiencing a mix of regret and nostalgia while their journey becomes increasingly surreal. Will keeps finding bottles floating at sea, each containing a page of an alternative and very sarcastic Bible. Penny carries a spade with her at all times and won't tell anyone why. Russ worries that he might have broken the boundaries between fiction and reality.
Higgs is plugged right into the British psyche throughout, with nods to Pratchett & Gaiman's Good Omens and Banks's Espedair Street, and has the good sense to make sure that such a psychadelic road trip stops off in Portmerion, home to that mind-boggling TV show The Prisoner. With rich characters, properly funny jokes and intelligent observations on life, art and love, this is really a very special novella.
(original review on eldink.co.uk)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well I like off beat and this has some nice ideas. I wish he'd developed it more - it's a bit Murakami. Read morePublished 21 months ago by person
I bought this book after reading KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money by the same author, which is an amazing must buy read. Read morePublished on 6 Sept. 2013 by Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen (real name)
This novel makes a very good companion piece to "KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money", a non-fiction work also by Higgs and my favourite book of 2012 by far. Read morePublished on 28 Jan. 2013 by Miss Magda
This debut novel by JMR Higgs is good fun, easy to read, and quite original. It's about 3 ex-friends who get together two decades after they used to play in a band together, and... Read morePublished on 17 Oct. 2012 by R. Selby
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
Higgs' travelogue is an eye and mind opening trip around the island of Britain. Read more
A delightfully skewed look at music, middle age and the landscape of the Great Britain. And utterly unlike anything else you may have previously read on any of those subjects. Read morePublished on 4 July 2012 by M Pearson