25 Words or Less:
Four friends go for a run, while the universe contemplates incipient and implacable mortality on their and everyone else’s behalf, in a rather heavy way.
Oh, you handsome devil.
Well, it is what it is, isn’t it? This charming man, shapely of thigh and full of trouser, or of short anyway, monochrome and with baton rampant on a field of literary orange. I guess it’s… retro.
Let’s say that it’s retro.
Ooo, fuckin’ell, is it by that Morrissey? Jeeezus.
Formatting, Grammar & Spelling:
The ebook formatting looks clean enough, but… did anyone else look at that opening paragraph before I got to it? That’s about 60% of the sample right there. Fairly sure there’s a typo in the middle of it too (I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess as to which page it’s on, though) unless “com-mingled” has some meaning I’m unfamiliar with. Manc English. Though it’s set in Bwoarstun, apparently.
They say that authors have to learn to kill their darlings, and Morrissey himself sang “Oh, oh, smother me, mother” so you’d think this would be second nature to him now… yet I suspect what I have here in my hand is nothing less than one, single, spectacularly unslain darling.
People magnetically attract others with similar weaknesses, as marriage rings the bell for the servile in hiding.
A darling which, if you’ll allow me to extend the metaphor, has never known the tender ministrations of a hairdresser (= editor), needing as it does some serious trimming and shaping.
The years pass as quickly as the sentence that describes their speed, yet you cannot believe it until you very suddenly look behind you and see a space once relied upon as being in the future.
Or possibly a number two all over.
Characterisation & Dialogue:
I think there’s only one character we encounter in this sample.
Born in 1959 to a hospital porter and an assistant librarian, Stephen Patrick Morrissey was… etc.
Was I enticed by the story so far? Ye-Nope. That first paragraph is like trying to read a strobe light — not read by one, to read an actual strobing light — and as my eyes flicker up and down in spastic jerks, the froth building at the corners of my mouth, I can’t help but think that this feels somewhat more of a mad midnight park-rambler’s missive against the world than a novel.
What happens? Four guys called Moe run round the athletics track, relay runners in practice for the season, each twenty years old and stinging under the feather-weight put-downs of their coach, Mr. Rims. Meanwhile, the narrative thread tangles itself in thoughts of life, and death, and if not actual misery then at least the employing of a faintly miserable tone of voice. Mr. Rims is marginally less less-than-caustic by the end of their session, at which point the second ridiculously endless paragraph of the book comes to an end, and the sample with it.
“If there’s something you’d like to try, ask me, I won’t say no. How could I?”
Said Morrissey’s agent, I can only assume.
I just read the sample of List of the Lost, and heaven knows I’m miserable na-ow.
= Technicalities =
Title: List of the Lost
Publisher: Penguin Fiction
Price: $7.83 (Sept 2015)