Feb 252015

Allan’s almost-debut The Race is an odd beast of a novel – four parts that link together across ideas of reality and illusion, structured almost like a surrealist French film but in its bones a deeply British novel, of the working-class type whose loss has recently been lamented in the press: there are tones of James Kelman and Ken Loach running through it. The novel drifts in and out of a fictional world, and the style changes; this is a book you’ll want to read, and one you’ll want to read again. It’s short, dense, layered, powerful, and shouldn’t be missed.

Feb 242015

Neil Double is a professional conference attendee – saving executives time while gathering cards and insights. He spends his life on the road in anonymous hotels like The Way Inn, meeting, sleeping with, and being annoyed by the same people, season after season. He’s come to the new MetaCentre to attend a conference for the conference industry. The Way Inn, the ultimate anonymous chain hotel, wants to make an offer he can’t refuse. Wiles is clever in his second book he pares away thin slices of reality, taking you on a journey that’ll have you quivering in chain hotels for months.

Feb 242015

A short distance into the future – the American economy an d its environment is busy collapsing and, somewhere further down the line, the “jackpot” has struck and the world has recovered, somewhat. Gibson does lots of things rather well: inventing language that feels real, perversely not letting you know what’s going on, making you interested in characters that are absolute shits (not evil, just people like Milgrim, now Netherington). He constructs elaborate jokes that build over chapters that are laugh out loud without being able to explain them, and he has fundamental respect for his characters, no matter how unsavoury.

Feb 232015

In a small, midwestern American town called Ealing, Iowa two boys are misfits who are bored, in the way people can only be bored growing up in a small town. Modern suburban-style rural sprawl clash with high school jock politics and the underage smoking of cigarettes and drinking of beer. Smith paints a very clear picture of why you shouldn’t move to the country so your children can grow up safe… and then he takes the story on a giant bug-fuelled long walk of a short pier. It’s insane but it somehow works. An homage to Vonnegut at his best.