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Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,527
Location
Penzance
I recently finished Westcliff based singer, songwriter and poet Phil Burdett’s debut novel ‘Maledictus’. It is a tome of wondrous prose, enchanting imagery and vivid imaginings. It’s unlike any other novel I’ve read, so it’s very novel indeed. It’s here I have to admit not having read ‘Ulysses’ - I know that the author is a big fan of it, so other readers may know more as to whether there might be any parallels.

The central protagonist of ‘Maledictus’ is The Troubadour and we experience this character in differing states of being at various times in his life. There’s a metamorphosis happening here and it culminates in The Troubadour’s other incarnation as Captain Rehab. Captain Rehab sails a ghost ship of past and future selves and it’s possible that he is The Troubadour’s post-corporeal being, but this is only my speculation. It’s a book that will, I suspect, repay a second reading but my initial impression is that it’s an exploration of the uncertainties in trying to understand this life and I’ve inferred that it’s suggesting our lived experience is just one small facet within a wider unconscious that exists in our dreams and the worlds beyond our perceived world. The boundaries between the conscious reminiscences, the dreamworld scenarios and the contemporaneous real-life happenings are sometimes blurred in ‘Maledictus’ but maybe that’s the point.

There are a whole host of colourful and interesting characters who are part of The Troubadour’s journey (that takes in Basildon, Southend, London and Amsterdam between 1978 to 2021), including the inspirational but unpredictable Degory Priest, the reliably profane Jimmy Red, the enigmatic Ursula Major and the wise, shamanic Radio Repairman. There is also Boo, The Troubador’s first love. She plays a cameo role but frequently returns in The Troubador’s memories and dreams. The Troubador’s psychotropic experiences in Amsterdam towards the end of the novel open up new doorways to his greater perception and his meeting with Theo The Sailor leads to the revelatory meeting with The Radio Repairman and The Troubadour’s eventual journey home, via the uncertain waters that influence his soul.

This is a novel that challenges any readers who like their fiction to follow conventional story arcs. It’s highly unorthodox in style and structure and you’ll also need a dictionary to hand for some words too. I urge you to give it a go. I’m going to be doing so a second time in the hope that I’ll be a bit more on the wavelength with it. And that reminds me, there are some clever musical references that permeate The Troubadour’s thoughts and I’m delighted to see that Phil Burdett, the Thames Delta Troubadour, will be playing live again later this year.
 

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Tangled up in Blue

Certified Senior Citizen⭐
Joined
May 24, 2004
Messages
33,216
Location
Sant Cugat del Vallès
Louise Kennenedy's Trespasses.Wonderful novel set in Belfast during the Troubles.Main characters are a 24 year old Catholic Primary school teacher and a middle aged Protestant Barrister involved in a doomed affair.
 

Tangled up in Blue

Certified Senior Citizen⭐
Joined
May 24, 2004
Messages
33,216
Location
Sant Cugat del Vallès
Claire Keegan's superb novella Small Things Like These ,set in the rural Ireland of 1985.Without giving too much away it's a modern Xmas story with the plot hinging on the Magdalen Laundry (Ireland's last one wasn't closed until 1996).Sort of reminds me of Paul Auster's wonderful Auggie Wren's Xmas Story,memorably filmed by Angie Lee as Smoke .STLT will make a wonderful film too I'm sure
 

Massimo Giovanni

Old Timer⭐
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
9,808
Location
Siena
Antony Beevoir, Downfall.
Horrific account of the final few months of the 3rd Reich.
The stuff the Nazis did! To the Russians, Poles, Jews and more they also did to their own people at the end, and then the Russians paid back in kind.
If the Red Army in Ukraine is anything like 1945 then heck there isn't going to be Queensbury rules.
 

Tangled up in Blue

Certified Senior Citizen⭐
Joined
May 24, 2004
Messages
33,216
Location
Sant Cugat del Vallès
Michelle DE Krester's Scary Monsters.Much preferred the first oart of this two part diptych ie a novel in 2 contrasting parts ,apparently-Mainly because it's set in Montpellier in the early 80's (a year before I was working there).Incidentally The SMs in question are racism.ageism and mysogony.A good read.
 
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