Anderson / Michael Boyce
Toronto: Pedlar Press, c2011
The opening line of the publisher's blurb on this book is: "Anderson is a mystery novel inspired by film noir and gothic/supernatural pulp fiction novels." And that is a pretty good description, I think. I was first attracted to it by the lovely cover, and the final sentence on the back of the book: Why should Anderson feel lonely, when he's surrounded by the mysteries?
It's a strange tale. Perfect for Carl's R.I.P. challenge, I'd say. Anderson is a detective of the strange; he is surrounded by mystery and solves psychic cases in his spare time. By day he's a simple computer tech, but his job really is a big blank spot taking up his time but not his attention. Anderson hangs out at a bar known as The Belly, where each Sunday night there is an event known as Half Moon Aether Night. This is where the odd people who Anderson feels comfortable with all hang out, for the trance music and strange atmosphere. It is here that Anderson first comes across the Haunted Girl who is the inspiration for his newest case.
Does this sound strange? It should. Anderson seeks out The Strangeness. Anderson spends the rest of the book following and then having carnal relations with the Haunted Girl (who he finally discovers is named Elle) and meeting her two accomplices, The Magic Guy and the Monochromatic Suit Guy. And things get really weird when Anderson realizes that the ghost who is haunting Elle has been taking over his body without Anderson's recollection of the ensuing events. The showdown between Anderson and the ghost is the finale of the book and it gets really crazy at that point. However, as much as this is a supernatural tale and narratively a little off the wall, there is an internal logic that makes it feel well structured and the action (such as it is) is consistent with the story's set-up. Much of the book is Anderson's perspective on everything around him, and his musings on the meaning of all those people, places and occurrences.
It took me a little while to adjust to the story and to find my reading position, because of its original style. And I had a few minor quibbles: every now and again, a word choice discombobulated me, and there were a few typos which interrupted the flow somewhat. And something that sounds odd, but that was an issue for me was the font choice. It was an original font, unusual, and I found that I was looking at the font as much as reading the story. I had to re-adjust to it each time I picked up the book.
When I finally finished it though, I found I'd become fond of the characters (well, except for Elle). The Monochromatic Suit Guy was a great sidekick for Anderson. It was interesting reading, and a good mental exercise to get into such an unusual tale.
If you're in the mood for something really odd, and might enjoy the talky style, the philosophical asides and the constant present tense narration, give this one a try.
Michael Boyce is the author of two novels Monkey (Pedlar Press,2004) and Anderson (Pedlar Press, 2010). He is also a freelance print editor, a media producer, a video editor, a musician, a writer of articles and reviews, as well as a lover of art, pizza and very peaty single malt scotch. His previous novel, Monkey, was nominated for a ReLit Award.
(info via Toronto Quarterly interview)