Thursday 28 May 2015

The Imagination Thief, by Rohan Quine

Reviewer: JJ Marsh

What we thought: Another difficult to classify book, but that’s precisely why it works so well. Part literary fiction, part fantasy, it is a surreal experience which makes the most of its equally offbeat location. With a cast of unforgettable characters and a central premise both intriguing and epic, this is what indie fiction does so very well – breaks boundaries and takes risks. In this case, it pays off.

From something as mundane as a drink from vending-machine, Jaymi unlocks an extraordinary ability: he can mine human imaginations. He wants to use this for the general good, enabling people to unlock and enjoy that inner universe. He has a plan. With his knowledge of the business and the unearthly vocal talents of his friend Alaia, he plans a broadcast like no other.

In Asbury Park, New Jersey, an abandoned holiday resort, preparations for the strangest and biggest show on earth continue. They encounter an eclectic bunch of characters; lovers, enemies, slaves and masters, all of whom provide Jaymi with a wealth of material. But information is power, and more than one person wants access.

The swooping eloquence of this book had me hypnotised. Quine leaps into pools of imagery, delighting in what words can do. The fact that the reader is lured into joining this kaleidoscopic, elemental ballet marks this out as something fresh and unusual. In addition to the language, two other elements make their mark. The seaside ghost town with echoes of the past and the absorbing, varied and rich cast of characters.

It’s a story with a concept, place and people you’ll find hard to leave.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Naked Lunch, by William Burroughs, How To Be Both, by Ali Smith, Tainted Love, by Stewart Home

Avoid if you dislike: surreal tangents, a blend of fantasy and reality, the unconventional

Ideal accompaniments: A classic Margarita with lime-salted rim, a sherbert dab and Bj√∂rk’s Pagan Poetry

Genre: Literary fiction, fantasy

Available from Amazon

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