Monday 18 June 2018

One Three One - Julian Cope (2014)

Rating: Admirable

Julian Cope is one of the finest cult musical artists in the world and is certainly one of the most endearingly creative and eccentric. Cope can also definitely write, having produced perhaps the greatest rock autobiography in the form of the hilariously manic Head On (1994). Cope also has a fascination with Neolithic Europe and has produced scholarly tomes such as The Modern Antiquarian (1998) and The Megalithic European (2004), but is he also a successful novelist? The answer is, well, maybe? One Three One is, as they say, a mixed bag; featuring a rock star character called Rock Section, football hooligans, neolithic stone sites on the Italian island of Sardinia (where most of the novel is set), Paganism vs Christianity (the Christians are the bad guys...) time travel (back some 10, 000 years), a multitude of musical references and a series of fictional rave era bands that many of the secondary characters have a hand in. It's heady stuff and most of the time Cope's freewheeling narrative style keeps you interested, however sometimes I was just plain bored, or frustrated and perplexed, and sometimes I was totally enthralled. I veered between thinking I'd rate the novel as mediocre and other times as excellent; but ultimately One Three One is quite an achievement for an eccentric cult artist whose main gig is producing excellent music at a fairly prolific rate. Well done Mr Cope... 

Sunday 10 June 2018

Imperial Bedrooms - Bret Easton Ellis (2010)

Rating: Admirable

Imperial Bedrooms is the sequel to Less Than Zero (1985), Ellis' debut novel that made a significant cultural impact in middle on that bloated decade. Fittingly both take their titles from seminal Elvis Costello albums. I have not yet read Less Than Zero, however this did not impact greatly on my understanding of the novel and, as I knew it would, it contained Ellis' typical emotionless writing style. In terms of conveying an atmosphere of soulless hedonistic despair Ellis is just brilliant, however the very act of reading the novel means being prepared to be drawn into that world and exposed to its narcissistic core, which is a draining experience indeed. The central protagonist, Clay, reminded me so much of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho (1991), as did the overall narcissistic tone of the novel and the exploration of modern humans devoid of basic humanity. I admired this novel more than I enjoyed it and ultimately if you were to read any Bret Easton Ellis novel it would have to be American Psycho, which is one of the greatest modern novels and, a cliche I know, also required reading during the decline of America under Trump.