A wee bit frustrating, but full of stray delights. An earlier Burgess novel was adapted for a winning, oddball spin on zombie narratives--and "Pontypool" illustrated the author's talent for voice. The film had a DJ with an ear for opinions and diction about 30 degrees' slant from expected, and the best thing in Cashtown is the way narrator Bob Clark, who did not direct Porky's, can spin sideways in funny, frightening turns of thought. He ponders his actions attending a customer at the gas station and notes, in an aside bracketed by commas, how he resents the word "squeegee.". I laughed, or winced, often enough to keep me going. Burgess has a biting voice and an eye for smalltown trivia.
But I was frustrated by how familiar, despite such topspin in the prose, the plotting and thematics were. Another serial killer, here less the Evil mastermind of contemporary post-Lecter myth, maybe more a distant cousin to The sheriff from Thompson's Pop. 1280, but no malice--instead he's ostensibly driven by his dissociation with reality. Yet that, too seems mere convention; Bob seems a trick of stream-of-consciousness than an alternative psychological state. (Contrast this with Lance Kerrigan's startling and unnerving--and empathetic-- film "Clean, Shaven."). Put this another way: in a creative writing exercise in college I wrote a story from a sniper's pov, and I achieved my far, far, far less successful "mind of the killer" with very similar sentence-level tricks. Bob Clark doesn't make me think differently... he just seems more construct than character.
Thanks to NetGalley and ChiZine publications for a review copy.