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The Secret Life Of The Novel Paperback – 12 Oct 2016
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About the Author
Dean Cavanagh is a screenwriter, playwright and author from Bradford, West Yorkshire.
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The Life of the Novel is at turns metaphysical, quantum, demented, perverted, confusing, pretentious, joyous, infuriating, genre defying, sprawling mess, genius, rambling, utterly challenging, a disgusting diatribe on lord knows what. It is never anything less than thought provoking entertainment. Indeed, if your idea of fun is ‘My Dinner with Andre’ playing on the radio during a scene in the film adaptation of ‘Inherent Vice’ which you’re viewing on a holographic tablet device at an Aphex Gristle gig which you’re experiencing through a VR headset, then immerse yourself. If not, walk away, don’t look back, give up.
As a previous reviewer noted, it is unique and very contemporary though it did come out a week ago so any right it may have to the claim of ‘contemporary’ has now lapsed. Put it this way, this is neo-digital surrealism writ large.
What’s it about? Who knows. But, if your kick is having your 3rd bloodshot eye squeegeed by transitional hot sauce, then you’ll be truly refreshed. Either that or you’ll be completely duped. Genius or madness? Only you, dear engaging reader, will decide.
It's a long time since I came across a book so packed with ideas, in fact I doubt I ever have. The often tenuous narrative concerns a 'hero' trapped outside of time and in a limbo between life and death, flesh and word. We are teased with linear extracts from his fictional writings and others whose provenance is not made clear. Ultimately we are left to fill in a number of important gaps in these stories for ourselves, but this doesn't feel unsatisfying because the book is always more concerned with the journey than the destination.
And what a journey. Cavanagh takes any and every opportunity to expound on arcane histories and philosophies, science, favourite books and records, economics, sociology and, in one lengthy, unforgettable strand, the Balkans civil war. These subjects are tackled in a range of mind-bogglingly inventive ways, verging a little too close to lectures on occasion but always engrossing and exhaustive. It's fair to say I learned a lot reading this book, although I'd be inclined to do some fact-checking before I quoted any of it it verbatim, such is its playful approach to truth and fiction. There are rather a lot of typos, too, although again this somehow seems less significant in a book about deconstructing literature than it might in a more traditional text.
Overall, it's a very dark, extremely dense but often hilarious post-modern feast of ideas and theory, tangled up with an intriguing plot set in the criminal underworld of late '60s London. I feel pretty confident about saying you won't have read anything like it before. Highly recommended if you're happy to meet an author halfway, because Cavanagh doesn't really put anything on a plate for you here. You'll also need to be in an unshockable frame of mind. There are some truly horrible bits, but more than enough edifying food for thought to make up for it. I've had a great time reading it.
A synthesis of sex, savage violence,truth,occult sacrifice,conspiracy and esoteric ideas,with humour as black as Newgate's knocker.
There's a beautiful complexity at play here. Paragraphs paradiddle as cacophonus composition , becomes a symphony of syntax.
No ingredients wasted in this Bitches brew,it certainly ain't 4/4 time but it Swings like a metaphysical MF
There are no limitations of time,space or spirit,a time travelling opus that dares to review itself, as the temporal nature of consensus reality unravels before our very eyes
Time isn't just speeding up,it's going over, under,sideways,down.
Take our quantum hero " & " ,an ampersand adrift on the ocean of infinity ,alienated from the alphabet , the Connector, everywhere & nowhere baby.
Cast into this liminal state by ego driven scientists at CERN during an experiment to make flesh Word,he attempts to write a novel from the memories he collects from the numerous fascinating characters he encounters.
But how can he write a novel when he's not even the author of his own destiny?
And what are they REALLY up to at CERN?
And what really happened to the Artist formerly known as 'Prince' (or 'Prince' for short)
And who the f&&& is Tom Mixmaster?
I could say this is "a book for our times" or " Zeitgeist defining " but that would sound hackneyed,and would disappoint "&",and you really don't wanna do that. He would balk at the banality. But it certainly marks a paradigm shift in novel writing.
It's THAT good...
This is a novel that actually contains novelty,i've read it twice now and feel like I've just scratched the surface of the layers of mystery within mystery.
And who doesn't love mystery?
As it says in the book,mystery is the intercourse,revelation is the anti-climax.
If you want a book that will evoke memories of experiences not lived,that will live long in your past/present/future subconscious,that will loom large in your legend,then you really need to get on this.
Genius & madness & everything in between.