Jack Messenger

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Gospel Prism | Gerald Weaver

Gospel Prism

Published by London Wall Publishing as an ebook, hardback and paperback

Gerald Weaver’s debut novel is centred on the mutability of words – specifically, the Word, as revealed to a narrator named Christian by an alluring and snappily dressed female Christ-figure in his cell in Manchester Minimum Security Prison in Kentucky.

The ‘preface’ to the novel, we are told, is written by Christian’s lawyer, who informs us that the book we are about to read has already been previewed and read, translated and mistranslated, appropriated and interpreted by a host of followers in a seemingly endless cycle of hermeneutical exegesis and editorial transformation. A unique claim of the narrative of Gospel Prism is that it is a book that has anticipated, foreseen and incorporated into itself the world it has already altered. It has subsumed many other books and inspired congregations of believers and movements for social change across the globe. We must thus infer it is a divinely inspired holy book, a scripture – a text that is in the world but not of it, in any conventional sense. It is a book that resists ownership, including that of its putative author. Continue reading

Number 11 | Jonathan Coe

Number 11

Published by Viking in hardback and paperback

Jonathan Coe’s eleventh novel is a metafictional labyrinth of allusions and connections to films, literary works and his own previous books (notably, What a Carve Up!), and another of his polymorphous ‘state of the nation’ addresses. It is a work of enormous confidence, audacity and inventiveness that takes the reader on an intriguing journey from past to present, from Birmingham via Beverley in Yorkshire to Australia and South Africa and London, from innocence to something very dark indeed. Continue reading

Proud Patrick | Michael Aloysius O’Reilly

‘Proud Patrick’ by Michael Aloysius O’Reilly

Published by CreateSpace as an an ebook and paperback (buy here)

After reading Proud Patrick, I took it into my head to visit Michael O’Reilly’s profile on Goodreads, where I learned that he counts among his main influences, not only writers such as Forster, Hardy, Joyce, Melville and Shakespeare, but also filmmakers such as Bergman, Cassavetes, Kubrick, Kurosawa and Lean. I found this list of luminaries to be intriguing, as I also think of my own writing in terms of film style – not a conscious and deliberate emulation of particular shots and scenes, but the grammar of film and the kinds of dramatic tension that great filmmakers know how to construct (see my post here).

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The Snail’s Castle | Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon Snail's CastlePublished by Dog Ear Publishing as an ebook and paperback (buy here)

Book tour page here

Carl Jung’s concept of the Shadow is one of many intertwined and mutually reinforcing themes in Mark Gordon’s complex and absorbing novel. The Shadow comprises the negative, primitive and morally reprehensible emotions and impulses inaccessible to the conscious mind: among them, lust, greed, envy, rage and the pursuit of power. It is at its most dangerous when habitually repressed and rejected, eventually manifesting itself in mental disturbances such as neurosis, psychosis or irrational hostility.

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Lost Ground | Ulla Jordan

Lost GroundPublished by FriesenPress as an ebook, paperback and hardback (buy here)

Lost Ground opens with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where Hitler’s fantasy of racial superiority was definitively trodden underfoot by the victories of black US athlete Jesse Owens.

Tina Björnström and her father, Eric, both Finns, have travelled to Berlin to watch Tina’s unofficial fiancé, Paul, participate in the five thousand metres event. Tom Henderson, a US reporter, is here to cover the Games. These are the novel’s four principal characters, and the story of Lost Ground is told from their multiple points of view – Eric’s experience is seen solely from the outside, while we enter directly into the consciousness of the other three. They take us from Berlin to Helsinki in Finland, via the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact to the attack on Finland by the Soviet Union, the ceding of Karelia to the Soviets (the lost ground of the title) and ultimately through and beyond the Second World War. Continue reading

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