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The mystery will only slowly be solved by reader and characters both, and at the end we may still not be entirely clear what has just occurred.
Between publication of The Driver’s Seat and Hothouse Spark gave a speech to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Thereafter I bought each Bond novel on publication, and continued to enjoy them, even while recognising that the books got worse after Blofeld and Spectre replaced Smersh as chief villain. The first of those books was chilling in the extreme, the second an almost theatrical farce.
The first films were likewise enjoyable, those that followed much more caper than thriller, and I haven’t seen a new one for years. The Hothouse by the East River would combine elements of both.
In its place I advocate the arts of satire and of ridicule. I would like to see in all forms of art and letters, ranging from the most sophisticated and high achievements to the placards that the students carry about the street, a less impulsive generosity, a less indignant representation of social injustice, and a more deliberate cunning, a more derisive undermining of what is wrong. The only effective art of our particular time is the satirical, the harsh and witty, the ironic and derisive. The rhetoric of our times should persuade us to contemplate the ridiculous nature of the reality before us, and teach us to mock it . This is a most peculiar hybrid of a novel, and one of its themes is hybridity.
And I see no other living art form for the future . I would like to see less emotion and more intelligence in these efforts to impress our minds and hearts . Because we have come to a moment in history when we are surrounded on all sides and oppressed by the absurd . Literary writers – such as Kingsley Amis, Julian Barnes and John Banville – have all flirted with writing “genre” novels.
Gough, a former winner of the BBC National Short Story Award and also the author of the “ending” of the computer game Minecraft in prose form, tries, and sometimes succeeds, in amalgamating these forms.
What unites it all is Scout Rock, above Mytholmroyd in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, where Hughes grew up.The dialogue belongs to the Theatre of the Absurd: language falls apart; meaning becomes elusive or elliptical.The book opens with the shoe salesman Kiel telling Elsa that the pair she is trying on ‘fit like a glove’, in an echo of the opening of The Driver’s Seat. Like most good novelists, he is also good on weather; at times you may feel you are trapped in misty, heavily-polluted Lima. The Neighbourhood can’t be said to match his best work, or indeed come close to it. If you don’t look for a masterpiece here, you will find a fast-moving crime novel, with an erotic sub-plot – a novel which also offers a searing picture of political corruption and brutality in his native Peru.