Okay, a book of what is basically poetry from a guy who, though a genius science fiction writer, has a tendency of late to get mired in literary pretentiousness might not sound great. However each and every deconstructed and reconstructed piece of text turns out to be a literary gem. Its amazing, the best thing Noon has done since Vurt.
Jeff Noon takes dubfiction to the bleeding edge via the wonderful logic/un-logic of the Cobralingus engine. Anyone interested in language and its structure must read this book. Noon surpasses his previous trump card, 'Needle In The Groove', with flying colours. I have felt that for some time now, Jeff Noon has been wrestling against the success of his first novel, the cybersurreal cult classic, 'Vurt'. For me, he finally reached escape velocity with the excellent 'Needle In The Groove', a book that received a lukewarm reception from many of the 'Vurties' out there, representing as it did, a departure from his trip-fi roots. Needle is however (in my opinion at least) is twice the book 'Vurt' ever was, sealing Noon's place as one of the most talented and adventurous British writers of the past ten years. 'Cobralingus' takes Needle's experimental text/rhythm structure and pushes it to its limits. Noon plucks samples from classic literature, cuts in filters or 'gates' such as 'overload', 'ghost' and 'add virus', processes which strip the text to it's bare bones, or pump it up to (and often beyond) breaking point. Noon mixes in more samples, the periodic table, the shipping forecast, keeping the words and meaning liquid, always extracting, reducing, focusing, distorting, finding new rhythms in the emerging forms, pushing and cutting the text forward, into the next remix. Cobralingus. A brave and intelligent book.
This is supposed to be a book on how Noon writes. However, anyone who has read some of his books will recognise that everything here is taken to the extreme limits of wordsmithing, and doesn't always work out. Most of Noon's work is readable as normal, but highly inventive prose. This book provides instructions for creating only parts of that prose, and is interesting, but practically unworkable for a long piece.