Compulsive Reader

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A review of Shriek: an absurd novel by Davide A Cottone
Reviewed by Carl Delprat
Shriek: an absurd novel
by Davide A Cottone
P.I.E. (Books) Pty Ltd
Paperback: 226 pages, July 21, 2017, ISBN-13: 978-0992529338

And now for something completely different …

This ‘absurd’ novel is a reading unlike anything I have ever experienced before, so … with that off my chest, I’d best attempt to explain what I mean by this discerning evaluation. Perhaps the cover says it all? Yes, you can begin to judge this particular book by its cover because inside and throughout all those white pages a hurricane is at work endeavouring to yank everything of life’s rationalizations into shards of disbelief.

As a writer myself, I know how stories can sprout and squirm about and then wriggle up out of the soil seeking light and nutrients … but this one is so entirely different. I’ve discovered a lifetime collection of personal inferences pasted into DavideACottone’s 212 pages of sugar-powered vigour. So … perhaps cane cutting had some initial contribution? And why do I mention sugar as a fuel? To me this is a high-sugar story that beats steadily through the pages like a metronome. Why use a metronome as an analogy? Because this book is full of pendulum swings and the story maintains its unique beat all the way through to the very last page. All the barnacles are there to see, all of life’s personal observances, they flow through these sheets but persist right at the edge of extremes and … I can see why Davide A Cottone used Salvatore Dali as a hinge.

So … while the metronome clicks its way past each chapter and moves on through levels of complexity that constantly astound me, I often pause to wonder … what caused this outburst of creativity. Energy lifts up between the dialogues, the personal signature of a mind intent on advertising its rationalities. Chapters can sometimes be surprisingly short yet … always another endless surprise is waiting for you… yes, anything can happen … even politics!

Visit the Palace of Power, be taken for a ride on the Roll and Toaster, be frightened shitless by the Cloak and Dagger train or the Shower of Terror and a must-see is The Yodelling Chamber where members of the government and opposition shout at each other.

Vote A.A.A.
We Offer You Nothing,
We keep Our Promises.

This novel is dripping with excesses and after I chewed through a few chapters I finally accepted that this was to be a tale of extremes. An adolescent sustains physical beatings that in many cases would conclude with concussion, internal bleeding and ultimately death. But in this novel, is just a phase in his inexplicable life and the local police are also waiting their turn to repeat the process. All sorts of drugs are purchased and consumed, unbelievable on a first-year apprentice mechanic’s meagre income. Girls compete to bed men then carve notches in their libidos. Huge, in fact insane amounts are made on the stock market. Purchased properties dramatically increase in value, and this Midas touch ingests the pages and leaves me once again shaking my head as almost everything becomes expediential. Then there’s the new geography, we are living within Cannabia the capitol city of Umbugumbuland. It appears to be surrounded by an assortment of civilisations loosely held together within a dodgy alliance and … all the while I keep trying to dovetail Queensland into this hodgepodge of outrageous societies.

Then there are new words like psychoplegia, which is described as a state between partial and complete paralysis of the psyche. What about … The Cardinality of Infinite Sets and the Continuum Hypothesis? Well … you best get ready for practically anything like … for instance trample therapy! COIN Certificates! NUTS Certificates! Now add to this peculiar emulsion such as religion, … well why not?As I’ve already said … sometimes the cover says it all … now, I dare you to read it. I’ve already started my first re-reading.

About the reviewer: Carl Delprat is a prolific storyteller and book reviewer for Compulsive Reader (Newcastle, New South Wales).
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