Right from the opening chapter Literature® pulls its reader into a strange and compelling world in which fiction has been outlawed and reading has become an act of terrorism. This is a world in which a large – and, of course, somewhat sinister – corporation sets out to apply the power of story to the ‘wider human project’; keeping traffic moving and getting people to work. This industrialisation of the otherwise prohibited materials uses only the most ‘functional’ of stories and pushes anything experimental or literary deep underground.
Taking place over the course of a single, action packed day in the life of its protagonist, Billy Stringer, the narrative zips along at a thrilling pace. Appropriately named, Stringer is a sports correspondent for a newspaper who is recruited to join the production line churning out acceptable literature for the roads. This offer sets in motion a frenzy of activity for Stringer who has to sweat and squirm his way through the menacing recruitment process while trying to dispose of some compromising material of his own. As well as zipping forward in plot, the narrative also takes us back to happier times, as the trope of an absent girlfriend is turned into a rather touching love story.
A clever interweaving of speculative fiction, dystopian vision, and classic noir, what’s most striking about Literature® is the quality of the writing. The prose is lean and spare with moments of beauty fizzing through showing just enough of the ‘literary bent’ so dangerous to our hero. It is also very funny.
Literature® is a highly engaging and entertaining read – thoroughly recommended, especially for those of us who like to read on our commutes.
KATHERINE GRAHAM, THEATRE RE.