Friday, December 11, 2009

The Scalding Rooms - Conrad Williams

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The Deal: At this point in time, due to an RSI, I can only type for 10 minutes at a time. What you see below is what is hammered out before the timer goes off- and nothing more.

This book was given to me by the author. After finding the mumbojumbo I wrote about one of his previous books, he offered to send me a copy. Really? Authors do that to converts? Because that seems like a terrible waste of ammunition, I mean, I'm already converted. You don't need to convince me further of your awesome. But I have been convinced further of the awesome, and squeeeeeeeed like mad when this landed in the post. I was convalescing after having all four wisdom teeth out, Dad had given me a lift to my flat to pick up some stuff, and I started reading it in the car on the way home, hopped up on painkillers and heatwaves, all the way back in January.

It is, I was delighted to discover, another story set in the post-apocalyptic world established in his novella 'Nearly People', which is a fucking OARSUM story. It follows Junko, who has a job in an abattoir, an uncertain relationship with his wife and a son who is not a child.

As I've come to expect from Williams's writing, it was just superb. A wonderful palpable air of menace that moved through subtle textures psychological and danger wholly overt and physical.

In particular, I fell in love with the world Junko moved through. Red Meadows. A beach full of 'ears. A plain of nothing but shattered glass. Reading it right after Breathmoss made me hungry to create. Macleod made worlds stunningly heart-breakingly beautiful, and Williams made worlds stunningly heart-breakingly wretched, and both were just so full of wonder and mystery, I could not help but be infected.

The last line, though, what a kicker. I read it, and checked the dedication again, and all the horror, despair, misery and relentless inescapable doom in the story was undone.

(Okay, so that was a bit over ten minutes, purely because I was looking for a passage in the book.)

(Only a couple of minutes over.)

Verdict: I babble. I love Conrad Williams's work, and thank him a hundred times over for this gift, and repay him with an RSI and time-delay hampered crappy write up.

Thanks also to Miss Apricot the Billy Goat, who is whispering the recipe for jam drops in that wizened ear.

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