Recently two e-books came to my attention, both self-published by the authors and both an excellent read. The fact they’re self-published throws a rather interesting light on our publishers – in Paul’s case I know he tried to get a publisher but can’t even get past the agents. So no wonder more and more (good) authors have decided to go the Amazon, Lulu and whatnot route getting their texts into the open. Right, let’s start and bear in mind that I’m crap when it comes to writing book reviews.
Paul Basgurboga, Rick O’Downe and the Topographic Dream
Kindle Edition, £1.86
Rick O’Downe is a unemployed chemist from Salford, Lancashire, who likes a drink and a smoke – you got a problem with that? Good. Next, Rick has three major obsessions in life and he don’t care who knows it, does he?
The first is access to his nine year-old lad Jody, who’s been deliberately whisked 10,000 miles away to New Zealand by his ex-wife – that is, his bitter and twisted ex-wife – Petra.
The second is his erstwhile laboratory colleague, Professor Garth Willey, now a highly successful (or highly lucky) TV Science Presenter and Petra’s former lover, who has just announced that’s he’s shooting a new BBC series in…New Zealand. The third – his rock music heroes Yes, whose obscure and mystical (or completely nutty and nonsensical) lyrics seem to act as Rick’s sole guiding philosophy through the complexities of life and love. But are they also a spur to kidnapping, murder and Pilotage of a Marine Vessel Without Consent?
Set in that part of New Zealand’s Middle Earth that the Hobbit wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole, Rick O’Downe and the Topographic Dream is a tale of Class, Revenge, Progressive Rock and Regressive Behaviour.
Paul’s book is amazing. There are at least three story threads woven into the book – the main narrative, an autobiography and e-mail conversations. And newspaper clippings. And streams of consciousness. And rock lyrics. And it’s extremely funny.
The book is a fabulous mixture of James Joyce, Flann o’Brien and Paul Basgurboga. Heartily recommended. Buy it.
Glenn Campbell, Limbo: A Novel
Kindle Edition, £2.50
A man without a name, without a past, without any specific memories to trouble him, finds himself living on a tropical beach with a beautiful woman. Is this Earth or someplace else? He can’t be sure. He doesn’t even know whether this place is real. All he knows is he wants out.
The monotony of Paradise is relieved only by the experiments. Every day he reports for duty in some kind of underground laboratory. Every day he is the subject of bizarre tests, arranged by experimenters he cannot see. Someone is probing him, provoking him, pushing into a series of events he doesn’t understand.
Every evening, he returns home to the beach, to the perfect little bungalow on the shore where the woman cooks him dinner and cares for all his physical needs. Who is this lady? Some sort of actress? And how could she be so perfect? Not a blemish on her skin!
He is a lab rat, and he knows it, but this is not a painful life. He could get used to it if time only gave him the chance. This world—whatever it is, wherever it is—is disintegrating. The beach is getting smaller. It is being riddled with bizarre defects. Whatever force is maintaining this place is losing its power.
In the early nineties Glenn Campbell used to live in Rachel, Nevada, where he published the Area 51 newsletter The Groom Lake Desert Rat, a humorous approach to the bizarre ongoings of the secret USAF base. Since 2000 he’s travelling all over the world, publishing books and appearing on TV from time to time.
Limbo is a fascinating story. Starting off like Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, it becomes more and more surreal and finally comes down to Earth – more or less. Who is the man, being kept prisoner on a beautiful beach? Who is the woman that lives with him? A robot? Is the beach actually on Earth? Who are the strange doctors and scientists conducting bizarre tests on him?
Again, recommended reading. Buy.