Books by Ian Gouge
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Novels and Novellas
LOSING MOBY DICK AND OTHER STORIES - Paperback 2017
The novellas 'Losing Moby Dick', 'Writing to Gisella' and 'Riding the Escalators' collected together in a single volume.
LOSING MOBY DICK - Kindle 2015
Books are, for many people, precious things. They become host not only to the words within them, but to individual history and memory, thoughts and feelings. So when Jack finds he has lost his old copy of “Moby Dick” he is suddenly knocked off-balance. He knows that it should not really matter that much - but it had ‘associations’…
So Jack determines to replace it - and not with a pristine copy, but if he can, with an old second-hand volume from the very bookshop at which he acquired his original.
A simple enough proposition you might think. But then Jack discovers that in the intervening years many things have changed, and Twerton’s bookshop is not what it was. It is much, much different…
WRITING TO GISELLA - Kindle 2015
In many ways it was the perfect, idyllic summer break: unexpected, taken on impulse, filled with sun, culture, and the beauty of Tuscany. And it was also filled with love; the kind of love that changes a young man’s life forever.
And then, suddenly, the dream is killed and there is nothing but vacuum. For years.
Until her letter arrives unexpectedly, finding him - them both indeed - different people.
Rick’s choice is binary. Does he - after all this time, and after the pain of a broken heart - simply ignore her letter? Or does he respond? Does he risk opening old wounds in the search for the answers to all those questions that once ravaged him?
And if he does respond, where will her letters lead him?
RIDING THE ESCALATORS - Kindle 2015
What could possibly go wrong? After all, Mitch’s idea is quite a simple one. And innocent too. The shopping mall in his town is vast: five floors of bright lights, chrome, glass; acres of products from candles to candelabra, from jumpers to jackets, music to toys. It is also filled with escalators - they too are brightly lit, shinning. They cross-cross between the floors, gluing the whole place together, allowing it to function.
And that’s Mitch’s idea. Most people would take one or two escalators, just the ones they needed to get from A to B. But what if the escalators were made the most important thing in the mall? What if someone chose to go to the mall, ignoring the shops, just to ride them? Could you really ride them all in one session, just once each, no duplicates, no cheating, adhering to ‘the rules’?
That’s the goal. But what starts out as a challenge of one sort soon turns into something much more strange and sinister - and Mitch suddenly finds himself and his new-found friends Suzi and Mr Lee in all sorts of danger…
THE BIG FROG THEORY - Paperback, 2017; Kindle, 2012
What do you most need when facing a complete disintegration of the life you have been leading? Where does the loss of your job, the betrayal of your wife, lead you?
Well, in Neville’s case to a small tea shop at the foot of the Malvern hills. But if he has gone there for some peace, some solitude, the chance to assess his situation and get his life back in order, then he is in for a shock. Is it madness that makes his coffee cup keep magically refilling, or the china geese on the wall try and fly away? And how could it be possible that a stale slice of Black Forest Gateaux would suddenly be able to offer him Agony Aunt advice?
Guided by Samuel, an aged coach driver (in his equally aged coach!), follow Neville as his travels take him to Paris, to the Derby at Epsom, dancing on a cruise ship, and into outrageous and dangerous adventures - and towards an unlikely romance that might just save his life…
SECRETS & WISDOM - Paperback, 2017
‘Secrets & Wisdom’ started life in 2016 as a project with a specific design. The idea was to write a series of short stories, each based on one of the traditional Olympian Gods and on one or more of their individual characteristics. In addition, each story would contain within it either a ‘secret’ held close by the protagonist, or the demonstration - or otherwise! - of ‘wisdom’ / self-knowledge in some form or other.
Over time, as the original project progressed, the reworking of some additional material - both modern and ancient - appeared to lend itself to the general theme, and so the notion was born to expand the brief of ‘Secrets & Wisdom’ and to create a slightly wider and more eclectic collection of short stories.
From the original project, “Angela”, “Anne”, “Hester”, “Hobart” and “Westminster” have made it into this volume (the remaining seven Gods currently lie dormant until they are awoken at some point in the future!).
So what is the genesis of the rest of material?
Some pieces - such as “My Dear Polly” and “Vinno” - had seen many anniversaries prior to being dusted off and re-worked for inclusion. Inevitably, a number were, on first drafting, a little like the unwanted guest at a party whose presence makes one feel slightly awkward; however, after a few drinks and a make-over, they suddenly become best friends!
“How Does It Start?”, “Stanley Grice” and “A Strange Kind of Map” are reasonably recent stories. At over 13,00 words, “How Does It Start?” is the longest story in this collection, and quite possibly one of the ‘star turns’.
PUNCTUATIONS FROM HISTORY - Paperback, 2018
“Punctuations from History” is Ian Gouge’s latest collection of poems, a volume that in various ways explores our place in, and relation to, history. Whilst there are similarities in theme to his collection “Human Archaeology” (which debuted at the 2017 Ripon Poetry Festival), the threads tying these pieces together are looser, more fluid.
In an unusual departure, “Punctuations from History” contains brief ‘context commentaries’ that provide the reader with a foothold into the individual poems: “an attempt to offer up a literary trowel to allow the reader to get below the surface of the poem more readily”.
Overall, the collection tries to assist with unravelling notions of “how we were / or how we are now / or how we might yet be”; fragments or mirrors offered up from our ‘punctuated history’.
HUMAN ARCHAEOLOGY - Paperback, 2017
If there is a unifying theme running through ‘Human Archaeology’ it is the relationship between Man and his history, memory, and how looking back at the past - at both its events and its artefacts - gives us the context for who we are.
This reflection manifests itself in a number of ways. In poems such as “Ripples” or “Beyond the Boundary” we look back into history in a traditional, narrative way. Far from being idealised, however, experiences are never far from disappointment, especially when it comes to journeying - as in “The Grand Tour”, “Exploration”, or “Northwest Passage” - where we see reality jar with hope or expectation.
If such viewpoints might be regarded as ‘romantic’ then we shouldn’t be surprised as there is romance in this volume too. However, this is also often unsatisfying because the outcomes are not ones of fulfilment (“Rose”), or have only generated disappointment or confusion (“The Dissemblance of Rock”), or are decidedly un-romantic (“Standing in Doorways”, “Love-locked”).
That the two strands - history and romance - are linked also runs through many of the pieces, and nowhere more explicitly than in “Abstraction” which opens with “Romance is an overlay on reality”, and elsewhere is the assertion that what we view as ‘history’ is simply a romantic interpretation of the past: “a romantic myth born from a need to believe in something / and that what we have done matters” (“Mirage”). More significantly perhaps, is the notion that true history cannot be known: “True history resides in all the photographs / that were never taken, / beneath veneers never applied, / like a ghost silently pacing marble halls / sensed but unrecognised” (“Abstraction”).
Whether this undermines the thrust of the poems that focus on the fabric of history - perhaps most evident in the “Archaeology” poems themselves (I, II, III and IV) - is a moot point. Perhaps it serves only to highlight just how difficult and complex the relationship between us and our history actually is.
That real conflict is an ever-present in our past - and in personal lives - is echoed too in poems such as “Days of Tea and Backgammon”, “Reading the Runes”, and “War Artist”, and where there is such conflict there will always be a fight for justice and liberty. In some respects, the poet - whilst keeping a safe distance from much of the debate, acting primarily as overseer and interpreter - is as much a rebel as those who appear in pieces such as “The Revolutionary”, “Assassination” or “Uprising”. And perhaps sharing some of their ideals, in one or two instances - most noticeably “The Permanence of Shrapnel” and “Camouflage” - the author lets his guard down in an attempt, ultimately in vain, to locate himself within his own history.
COLLECTED POEMS - Paperback, 2017
For the first time since individual inclusions in pamphlets, the third of an anthology - “Play for three hands” - through to self-published Kindle volumes ‘Walking Thru Fire” and “Second Sight”, Ian Gouge has gathered together all his major poems, revised them, and produced this first “Collected Poems”.
It contains some of those early pieces - such as “From The Lighthouse” - some poems never published before, and includes all the marque verse from his later volumes: “St. Ives”, “Skipton”, and of course “Walking Through Fire”.
This collection is a journey through theme and style, which still echoes the observation made in “Play for three hands”: ‘…the stoic shrug of the shoulders may mask a deeper sensibility. The disillusionment is only skin deep. Penetrate the veneer of cynicism and you will find a romantic beneath’ (Jason Best).
SECOND SIGHT - Kindle, 2013
WALKING THRU FIRE - Kindle 2012
<== The CIO Scrapbook (vol 1) ==> Kindle 2015
<== Shaping the IT Organisation ==> Hardback, 2003; Paperback 2014
<== e-Management ==> Paperback, 2002, 2013
<== On the Seventh Day ==> Paperback, 2000