Tuesday, 23 December 2014

INKKER HAUSER Part 1: Rum Hijack by Phil Conquest

5 out of 5 stars

Novella, dark humour

Originally posted on Amazon UK HERE on 10 September 2014
On Amazon.com HERE

I've just re-read this - so good I read it twice!

The nameless narrator of this short memoir is one of the most memorable fictional characters I've come across in ages: a delusional, borderline insane young man who is convinced he's a literary genius though he has written nothing at all. He talks of his 'writers' block' throughout, and pities his hard drinking grandfather for not having the talent or tenacity to write his much talked about wartime memoirs, never seeing that he is talking about himself.

Phil Conquest is one of those natural storytellers who can make even the most mundane occurrence interesting. There's a marvellous scene in which the young man is in the library trying to look 'writerly', but succeeds only in getting biro ink all over his hands. Conquest has the rare ability to convey the exact mood of a scene with only a few sentences; this is even more beautifully illustrated in chapter 8, when the narrator hopes to stun his fellow pub quiz team members with his literary knowledge, but fails dismally. My favourite chapters are 6 & 7; in 7 he rants against illiteracy on social networking sites (it's brilliant!), and against the people he despises most: the 'bestselling' ebook authors. It's not only funny, it's so sharply observed. He sums up the characters in his own life so succinctly, too. I loved the description of a barmaid in his local: "A short girl ... quite round and a natural frump, she seemed to think she could divert attention from this by painting her nails garish colours, wearing massive earrings and laughing at almost anything".

One of the reasons why the nameless young man is such a compelling character is that Conquest has done something I suspect he doesn't quite realise: he's made him lovable. Although somewhat pathetic and undoubtedly bonkers, he's also rather sweet. There is a touching passage where he tries to talk to a mumbling homeless woman in a charity shop, and another in which he tearfully apologises to the clock he'd had since childhood, smashed up in a 'writers' block' induced rage. "Poor little clock" he says, talking to it as he throws the pieces in the bin. I felt so sorry for him.

The style of writing reminds me very much of Jerome K Jerome's 'Three Men in a Boat'. It's intelligent, funny and really off the wall while still being very readable. The character has so much potential; there are at least three more parts on their way. Very highly recommended indeed!

INKKER HAUSER Part Two: Literastein by Phil Conquest is not yet published, but I have received an advance copy and reviewed it HERE


No comments:

Post a comment