Hatch City comes alive!

My wonderful friend Roisin gave me the most generous gift for my recent birthday - she brought Hatch City to life with her artistic skills! Her drawing perfectly represents the city in my imagination: dark, drowning and dangerous ... and everything under the shadow of the looming Watchbreakers' Tower. It's really exciting for me to have somebody else make the effort to step into a world that previously only existed in my head, and to bring back proof that they really were there!

Hatch City has been very alive in my imagination lately also. I've been working hard on the book over the last few weeks, drawing up huge flowcharts of the fabula and contemplating the syuzhet. It feels both like I've come a long way and also like I'm just starting. Tiny notes from a year ago make sense all of a sudden, and I'm having plenty of "Aha!" moments. I'd better enjoy the flow while it lasts!

Review of "Love Is The Law" by Nick Mamatas

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Spoiler alert: I loved this book.

I raced through 43% in one sitting before I was forced to countenance a pee break. This is absolutely compulsive, fingers-bitten-ragged stuff. It has only been a few hours but already I miss pelting helter-skelter through 1989 Long Island in the company of pitch-perfect 19-year-old punk “Golden” Dawn Seliger.

I loved Dawn, a fascinating and believable anti-heroine in a patriarchal world that only respects anti-heroes. She is a tough, smart, disciplined and fearless feminist; a lover of depth over surface.

Mamatas is a master of illustrating character. There were several perfectly succinct descriptors that made me smile with delight, such as: “When he ran a red light, that was the revolution. When he stopped for the next one, that was also the revolution.

We hunt with Dawn as she tries to find out who killed Bernstein (her mentor and lover) and why. For a murder mystery, the intense merging of hard-to-blend Crowleyan magick and Marxism on show in this book is a heady mix. As a lover of all things hermetic and leftie myself, I do wonder how the trad detective-novel brigade have taken to this tale. Are they able to keep up with all the qliphoth and communists?

I will admit that there is something uncomfortable about seeing your own interests and beliefs reflected. Seeing the power (and limitations) of focus and Will. Seeing something personal made political, the esoteric made exoteric, the occult revealed and it doesn't look so great out sunning its warts in the light. “Of course, some might argue that magick is a course in applied psychosis.

As Dawn digs deeper into the mystery, we see that in this world there are no coincidences, all is synchronicity. Everything is tied together in a vast web. Every thing and every person has a role to play. To be honest, I stopped caring who killed Bernstein, I was just raptly enjoying how well everything jigsawed together.

Running through the whole tale is an infectious anger, simmering like the “black thing from the Abyss” that rises within Dawn upon occasion. With the writer as our retro-prophet, viewing the America of today through the lens of the past makes it all the more horrifyingly dystopian:

'By the dawn of the new millennium,' Bernstein told me, 'fucking Ayn Rand will be considered a serious philosopher. Democrats will be pulling off shit that Ronny Ray-gun wets the bed dreaming of – slave labour for welfare mothers, permanent military bases all over the Middle East, torture chambers deep underground, bugs in every phone and office fax machine, computer chips in everything else, and robotic stealth bombers doing all the dirty work. And that will be the liberalism of the epoch.'

We barrel through concepts and ideas that urge further thought, from creating identity through consumption (“But all I was doing was buying, then leaving. I was the worst sort of commodity fetishist; in trying to consume the life I wanted, all I was eating was my own slow death.”) to the logic of the middle class (“But all Long Island is fearful now. What if nuclear war isn't inevitable? How are we going to pay down the mortgages on our homes? That's the logic of the middle class.”).

Every moment, every scene, has its own devastatingly witty lines: “'Because he's a Marxist. And he has money.' 'How do you know he has money?' 'Because he's a Marxist! Poor people on Long Island don't care about Marxism. It's a rich person's hobby, like collecting vintage decoy ducks.'

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The repeated imagery of the Tower tarot card becomes burned into the mind as a sigil for capitalism. All is falling and people are duped into acting against their own best interests: “Boris Yeltsin, a capitalist alcoholic, climbs one of the tanks and gives a stirring speech. Like magick, the troops change sides. The girls go wild, hooting and pumping their fists. They're in fucking prison in capitalist America, and they still believe every stupid lie about freedom the television tells them.

All this and a satisfying end! I finished reading this afternoon with wide eyes and a big smile, energised from the excellent story and curious about the themes, wanting to learn more. The plot always comes first, and the anger and despair drip-fed through the novel is perfectly balanced with humour and Dawn's self-sufficiency.

Is there really no alternative to the status quo? I like to think that we eager readers have been infected, become potential agents of some future revolution, lying in wait for Comrade Mamatas to trip the coded message that will activate us. And I, for one, am ready for the sequel.

*****

 

Review of "Sandman Slim" by Richard Kadrey

Stylish, dark & addictive

Are you feeling tired and worn-out? Just finished some serious literature and need a little break? Richard Kadrey’s book is like a shot of adrenaline that will shake you up and give you some real oomph to take back to the real world. You’ll turn the pages so fast I can almost guarantee papercuts.

Sandman Slim is not recommended for people of delicate disposition who are averse to the word “fuck”, graphic descriptions of violence or irreverent discussion of angels and demons. This particular wild ride is for anyone who loves movies such as “Army of Darkness”, “Repo Man” and “Fight Club”. I can’t think of many similar books I’ve read, maybe because this book actually reads more like a movie than anything else (in a good way).

I won’t give away any plot details, but there’s a brilliant anti-hero and intriguing supporting cast of characters from the seediest underworlds of LA, all fighting and wisecracking with the denizens of heaven and hell. What’s not to love? I hear the sequels are even better, so I’ll save my five stars for them.

****

Source: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/...