Sunday, June 25, 2006

Allan Guthrie and one comment on Derek Raymond

A couple of readers have mentiond Derek Raymond's Department of Unexplained Deaths or "factory" novels, and that they're being reprinted by Serpent's Tail (more kudos to Serpent's Tail). I should have gone into some detail about Raymond, but it's been a while since I've read them. A good excuse to go back--my memory is that they're noir to a depth that is almost surreal. I just read Allan Guthrie's first novel, Two Way Split, and it has a surreal side, too. The complex, fragmented narrative has a secret lurking at its center, revealed in the denouement. Even before that secret is revealed the narrative has a weird movement that contributes, rather than retards, its motion forward as well as its noir atmosphere. When the secret IS revealed, the novel tips into a milieu that has only been hited at earlier--has anyone read Jim Thompson's asylum comedy, The Alcoholics? It's a wild and funny surreal noir comedy, and Guthrie's first novel takes a step in that direction, as well as a step in the direction of Thompson's more straight noir novels. The sequel is much more straightforward, but still a pleasure--while Two Way Split is perhaps a more distinctive accomplishment. Check out Guthrie's extensive website, Noir Originals, which has a great deal of information about other authors as well.

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