Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Simon Crump. A novelist like no other

My wife read it and said: "You should read this book (Neverland) by Simon Crump, it's got a very black sense of humour. You'll enjoy it."

I did. It was. I did. 

Neverland by Simon Crump. It's a very novel Novel. Is it like a collection of interlinked short stories, as some people believe? Yes. Well, no. Not, quite. It's more a collection of interlinked ideas, instead.

By the way, the dead hamster unicorn featured in the novel? I'm not entirely certain it was. Dead, that is.
Simon Crump takes several different ideas and places them in a very unique and out of place context. You can imagine Michael Jackson and Uri Geller together. (They are or rather, were friends in real life) You can imagine them being together in a shopping mall. You can imagine them having an argument. But then place them and their argument (and the stunning consequences thereof) in the Meadowhall shopping mall in Sheffield and it's as if your favourite aunt has taken your jumper, unpicked the stitches and turned it into a really funky Dr. Who Scarf. But not quite like that, perhaps.
 
Simon Crump decided to write a novel about Michael Jackson. It took him three years to complete. And -apparently this is true- four hours after he had finished writing it, Michael Jackson was dead.
Simon Crump's writing style is laconic, yet even so, there is a moving, other-worldly poetic feel to his writing.

He writes with a refreshing sympathy for all of his characters, Michael Jackson, Lamar who was Jackson's assistant and former Elvis bodyguard, The Broad, The Broad's lunatic husband and Michael Jackson's grandmother, to name but a few.
 
Simon Crump's subject matter is sometimes unpleasant, but it is of a realistic unpleasantness, and there is nothing gratuitous in his writing. Weird, odd, bizarre enough to make the Fortean Times look like a Haynes Car Manual, yes. But never gratuitous.
Other novels by Simon Crump are My Elvis Blackout and Twilight Time. Which have received rave or raving reviews, depending on the point of view of the reader.

(EDITOR: A different version of this review was published at Ciao)

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