Tuesday, September 16, 2014

David Barnett

David Barnett is an award-winning journalist, currently multimedia content manager of the Telegraph & Argus, cultural reviewer for The Guardian and the Independent on Sunday, and he has done features for The Independent and Wired. He is the author of Angelglass (described by The Guardian as “stunning”), Hinterland, and popCULT!

Barnett's new book is Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon, the second Gideon Smith novel.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Barnett's reply:
Because I do some reviewing for newspapers in the UK, I’m lucky enough to get quite a few books sent to me, and while some of the writers I’m familiar with, others I haven’t come across before, or are making their debuts.

One of my favourite writers currently is Nick Harkaway, and his latest novel Tigerman is an absolute joy. It’s about a British soldier nearing the end of his working life who is given a retirement slot on a distant island. He strikes up a friendship with a young boy who is obsessed with popular culture, particularly comic books. Harkaway is the author of two previous novels, The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker, both of which have at their heart apocalyptic motifs. The Gone-Away World is pure post-apocalypse, where humanity lives in a thin belt girdling the earth, the rest of the planet uninhabitable thanks to a series of man-made ecological disasters. Angelmaker is about the threat of apocalypse and the unwitting setting-in-motion of a doomsday device.

Harkaway continues the theme in Tigerman, but the apocalypse is more localised – the island is to be destroyed by the international community because a series of experiments there have created a bio-hazard threat that could jeopardise the rest of the world if left unchecked. It’s a very subtle apocalypse, and the inhabitants of the island are waiting patiently for the end, just as the washed-up soldier, Lester Ferris, is marking time to his own retirement.

Tigerman is quirky – this is a Nick Harkaway novel, after all – but it’s warm and tender and gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling about humanity, even as you despair at what we’re capable of.

Other than that, I’ve been re-reading a lot of RA Lafferty for a feature I’ve been writing. Lafferty is criminally under-appreciated and his novel Fourth Mansions – nominally about rival conspiracies vying to control humanity, but so much more than that – is an absolute classic that everyone should read. He’s funny and scary and thought-provoking all at once.
Visit David Barnett's website.

The Page 69 Test: Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon.

--Marshal Zeringue