Danger, Transformation, Mutilation…
These are haunting tales but not at all of the spooky, wistful, asthenic variety. They are muscular and physical. They reverberate with energy. Come here! Hey – faster! Look at this! Don’t blink! And so you find yourself running pell mell through Jon Richter’s high octane, twisted universe. Trouble is, a lot of it looks (though you may pass it so quickly you cannot check) suspiciously like that familiar world you were living in complacently yesterday:
- That problem we were having with the rubbish, dear? Did the council ever fix it?
- You forgot to phone them? I know, sweetie, it’s because you’re not sleeping well : I wonder if I could find you an alternative therapist…
- I know! I’ll ask my Alexa upgrade! Dead nifty… whatever would I do without it?
Out of such familiar scenarios – and few more exotic ones – come dark disturbing stories of danger, transformation, mutilation. Jon Richter’s universe is one where the hunter can turn to the hunted in a moment; fragile bodies can be torn apart, impaled, even eaten; piles of rubbish can heave (like a rotting womb or stomach) into lurid, festering life. The whole world, initially so concrete and familiar, can be turned inside out.
It’s not a book for the faint hearted, though it’s sweetly restrained in a few dimensions – there is no sexual violence here, no vamps or virgin victims; people drink tea (this is set in Britain for goodness sake!) and they mostly care about their relatives. I have a strong suspicion that despite the mutilated bodies that he keeps in the larder and his dodgy approach to recycling, Jon Richter is probably a bloke who is kind to his mum, rather good at quizzes, and I would cheerfully go to the pub with*.
Well, anyway…. he’s certainly worth a read: writes well and tells a cracking good story. Pacey, witty, transgressive, inventive. So if you drink your fiction black, strongly brewed, and with just a few crystals of sugar – and especially if you’ve got a positive relationship with your kitchen appliances and would never set off on a cross-country run without a spare wooden leg and a machete-scale Swiss Army knife – you will find that this book sits well on your bookshelves.
Anyway, I bought a copy. It was a bargain. OK. The stories are dark, and seriously they’ve disturbed me. Haven’t slept or eaten since, and I’ve started to worry about Alexa. But, hey, you should buy a copy too. (You ever noticed how people always want to drag you into the hole they’re in…?)
* Disclaimer: OK. About that pub-and-quizzes comment… Don’t count on me with that one. I’m a fantasist. I know nothing about this bloke. (Really I should have saved the ‘Author Bio’ which that nice Ms Blackthorn sent me. Should at least have read it – I’m supposed to be on one of her important Book Tours with this). Hmmm. So I’m not going to commit myself to that ‘he’s-probably-a-nice-bloke’ thing, OK? Scrap that bit. I mean, crikey, for all I’ve bothered to find out, he might be a raging psychopath, his hands permanently shackled behind him, in a high security ward of some secret asylum, writing with a pen in his mouth, poked through a safety grill they have to keep padlocked over his teeth… OK, OK, I’ll be careful: I’ve promised the kids. I might just go down the pub with him, you know, quick pint, half an hour, public place, but I’m definitely going to do a risk assessment before I let him sell me any pills, invite me on a marathon or rent my basement.
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