I usually like to talk about books before I read them, so I have no idea why the brilliant Lauren Beukes' ZOO CITY (yes I DID buy it before it won), a slightly dubious 'Con tombola' win of book I already forgot the name of, and my five-years belated subscriptions to Interzone and Black Static have languished unwritten about for almost a fortnight.
Perhaps it's because I got a sneak preview of Hari Kunzru's new Arizona Desert epic GODS WITHOUT MEN the same weekend. I've always loved the desert (the idea and the reality of it) and stories where the setting is a character in itself. I wasn't disappointed here: the menace and otherworldliness of it was evoked so well it gave me the shivers. Perhaps there were one or two too many storylines to follow, but since they all mean something, and all add up to this heartbreaking exploration of loss -the grief, the hallucinations, the fear, the euphoria...you juse can't fault the guy. It's out in August. By which time I hope to have read his other books - something I've been meaning to do for about ten years.
But getting back to ZOO CITY. Hardboiled, accessibly, utterly absorbing, dirty, violent, and fun. It also blows the fantastical lid off Johannesburg, a city I knew nothing about before - a treat and a half. The reviews say everything useful I can think of - particularly taken with 'Raymond Chandler's BIG SLEEP crossed with Jeff Noon's VURT'... perhaps there's a shade of Michael Marshall Smith's early stuff in there too. I'll be looking out for Lauren Beukes' other books now - MOXYLAND, of course, since its out...but I'll be first in the queue for the next Zinzi novel if there is one. What a great new female 'PI' to add to the acres of hardass men: Beukes gives her a turn of phrase that I'd sell my soul to have myself.
'Bliss' is the wrong word for my Bank Holiday reading, every book was far too dark for that...perhaps the utter dirty addictiveness of it has more in common with the Dark Chocolate Hob Nob.