OR: Sensing Others

A review that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #24:-


Frank Tallis

Hamish Hamilton pb, 295pp, £9.99

Nick, a rock musician on his uppers, supplements his income by acting as a guinea pig in trials of a new drug called Naloxyl, while his band chase after the elusive recording contract that will bring them deserved fame and fortune. He suspects that the drug is tampering with his mind, allowing him to pick up on other people’s thoughts, but then again he could just be paranoid. The problem becomes pressing when Nick’s band do a gig at an S&M club and he becomes victim of preference for a gay serial killer. Meanwhile Nick’s relationship with older woman Cairo is in crisis, his friend Eric is dragging him into illegal activities and the band are all at sea in the murky waters of Europop.

There’s quite a lot of plot here, rather more than the narrative can comfortably bear, but though he teeters at times Tallis manages to keep all the balls in the air until he can deliver the happy ever after finale. The most interesting ideas are used as window dressing rather than developed in their own right, and underlying it all is an old hippy agenda. The good guys are musicians, eco-warriors and Krayesque underworld figures. The bad guys are music promoters, doctors and big business. Hendrix is God, Ronald McDonald is the Devil, and the moral of it all is that a bag of marijuana bought off a dealer on the street corner is safer than a drug pharmaceutical companies have lavished millions on developing. It’s well written, fast paced, full of engaging characters and patches of humour, erotic in places and disturbing in others, with a credibly low key account of time spent in a mental institution and one of the nastiest scenes of sexual menace I’ve read. I enjoyed it more or less, but at the same time it all seemed rather dated and weighted down with nostalgia, a novel that’s early seventies rather than now.

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1 Response to OR: Sensing Others

  1. Pingback: NR: The Passenger | Trumpetville

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