Posts Tagged ‘Bizarro fiction’

Novahead, by Steve Aylett. Published by Scar Garden, 2011. ISBN 975 0 95665677 2

http://steveaylett.com/pages/aylettNovahead.html

A book full of crackling dialogue. All mood, atmosphere, attitude.
It is written in flows of rhetorical language, surfing on the edge of meaning at times; it is the created worlds and assumed allusions that pull it all together. His worlds are the further edges of dystopia; his intent satire. The language is so allusive, tight, I wonder about amphetamines, coke. The main character/narrator, Atom’s, drug of choice is Jade.
It’d disservice the ethos to review. The best I can do is excerpt.

Striking quotes so far:

Taffy Atom meeting Betty Criterion:
‘There you are, dangling from your head,’ she said.
……………………………………………………………….
‘The sooner I’m replaced by my corpse-in-waiting the better.’
‘Cushioned in loose worms.’
‘In a coffin, adjusting to my remains.’
……………………………………………….
With courtesies fulfilled, she stood, placed her pet ganglion on her throne….
(page 72)

And later:
‘Do you understand that when a collective identity is formed it has a very distinctive intelligence of its own, always lower than the average among its individuals?

………………………………………………………..

‘For millenia humanity’s been learning with the handbrake on… but a stopped clock never boils, Mr Atom.
… science has created the misery and systems of drainage that separate us from the barbarians…
(pages 92/3)

I’ve plenty more riches to read, yet.

Novahead is the last of the Beerlight novels.

We meet the young lad, Heber, the boy with a bomb in his mind. To render him temporarily safe Atom relocates him to The Fadlands, where nothing stimulating or lively happens; where nothing can spark off interest in his mind, and so set off The End. It is a place where everything, all energy and creativity, are drained from people.
Major metaphor, anyone?
I look out of my window, and… hmm…
Perhaps I’ll leave something interesting around for him to find.
But first, must read on.

For Philip K Dick, that’d be be the trap laid out for you, to draw you in to closed recursive mind-sets: see Lies Inc. For Steve Aylett the trap is ourselves: we are each the ampitheatre of our own ruin.

And I was reading on, and a character quoted some lines. I had to re-read that again,  What? I know that. It’s lines from an early song by a band, circa 1967/8. They are not credited, I noticed, nor permission sought – so I will not press this, other than to say I can’t think of anyone more remote from Steve Aylett.
Ok, why’s that? Well, Steve is cooler-than-cool, hipper-than-hip, to some readers. That is to say he is The Cutting Edge of present day, ‘and beyond’ (to quote Buzz Lightyear). And he also has been adopted by the bizarro movement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bizarro_fiction

Of course, once you start spotting things, it takes a hold.
So then, Heber, the boy with the bomb in his mind – was he part-suggested by an early Mark Leyner story (Ode to Autumn) from the short–story collection, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist (1991), about the human bomb ? There is family-resemblance of style, too, with the early Leyner. Steve Aylett does far more with the concept.
There are passing/throw-away references to William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, and no doubt loads of things I just don’t, but should, know.
Each of the three sections of the book concludes in a battle scene; all very laddish, perhaps. But even Atom, in the middle of it all, is circumspect: he begins to suspect this happens every night, not to win any fight, but just for the sake of fighting. A weariness sets in.
And the ubiquitous car chase – it is more Blood Drive than Wacky Races, though. And there is his fascination with guns – but here he develops it into sentient weaponry, guns, that evolve their own living species. Cronenberg is in this mix, and why not. But all this saved by the wit in the telling, and the fun in the multiplying exuberance.

His flows of language are more than vehicles for attitude, and ‘smart’: they reach.
They reach, and in mid-
air
achieve some amazing feats, grasp new-minted concepts, ideas, that are sometimes just a little beyond my own grasp; I see them sparkling there, but can’t get to them.

And then the mix changes, and new possibilities suggest themselves.
It is like watching a vast kaleidescope, that holds one configuration for a moment, and as we are busy spotting the patterns, it all changes again. The constituents are many and intricate, and so the patterns possible are endless, and all fascinating.
And it is 3-dimensional.

Steve Aylett:

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