Books Magazine

Wild Ink – Richard Smyth

By Hannahreadsstuff

WILD INK Amended 12.05The Blurb:

Albert Chaliapin is dead – or at least, he feels like he ought to be. He lives in a world occupied only by the ghosts of his former life (and his nurse, who can’t even get his name right). Then, one day, his past – in the form of a drunk cartoonist, a suicidal hack and a corrupt City banker – pays a visit, and Chaliapin is resurrected, whether he likes it or not. He doesn’t, much. Someone’s sending him some very strange cartoons. Someone’s setting off bombs all over London. Someone’s been up to no good with some very important people. This is no job for a man wearing pajamas. Will Chaliapin make it out alive? And is being alive, when it comes down to it, really all it’s cracked up to be?

POW! How good a blurb is that? Its almost irresistible! London, mystery, black comedy, a hint of the literary – I was pals with this book the minute it fell through my letter box. Estelle Morris’ cover design is also awesome. So, well done to the folks at Dead Ink Books for all that!

But mostly well done to Smyth, who has managed to write a readable but pretty literary book. In fact, Dead Ink describe themselves as “publishers of [anti] literature”, and if I have understood that statement, then this book sums it up pretty neatly.

Its wordy, it needs your attention – there’s no “one eye on Bake Off” with this, but don’t let that put you off – its a romp of a read and once you are in cahoots with Smyth’s style you are easily swept along.

Wild Ink is drenched in cigar smoke, creaking leather chairs and whiskey glasses crashing in dark corners of waxy smelling pubs. It’s all the things I dream about when I dream about being a post-war bohemian creative sort.

Smyth’s brilliantly wrought cast of characters will bring to mind figures from the annals of literary history and Smyth clearly knows his written word. Even with an English Lit degree behind me I have to say I struggled to keep up with some of the references (to the point where I almost didn’t know what was and wasn’t conjured up by Smyth) but that didn’t stop my enjoyment (though, perhaps has me needing to brush up on my theory a bit).

This is a delicious, bounding book and perfect for the long nights that are now starting to edge in on us. You will be baffled and bemused from the start and will feel physically pulled around literary London with Smyth’s bunch of, possibly past it, boozy academics. Hilarious in places and a definite head scratcher from page one. I liked it and you probably will too.

Book info:

  • ISBN: 9780957698512
  • Published by Dead Ink Books, out now
  • Sent a copy by author, thank you very much!

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