Sunday, 26 August 2012

My Dentist Thinks I’m a Car and The Crooked God Machine

In the early chapters of my new book, The Applauding Coat Factory, the main character has an ancient car and when he opens the door to get in or out, it sounds as if the creaking is saying ‘Shoooees!!’ in a desperate, drawn-out plea; as if it wants him to paint it pink, replace its tyres with heels and finally free it from this car-ish nightmare; as if it really never wanted to be a car at all. Now, I am a lady (although I don’t really enjoy heels and the like), but imagine the knots that appeared in my head when (only weeks after writing this) I went to see a new dentist and found that he seems to think I’m a car. That’s the only explanation I can find for it. He didn’t particularly want to talk to me, even though I have a reasonable grasp on which teeth hurt. He sat me down, jacked me up energetically, pumping with his foot and then walked around me, stroking his chin, obviously calculating the cash-to-dim-woman ratio. But it was at this point that my car-ish nightmare really began. There was no ‘Open wide’. He cranked opened my bonnet, clanked around with his tools and I swear there was a faint smell of petrol. And his hands moved so quickly and brutally. When I think about it now, I imagine myself pinned to the chair by those hands with my arms and legs kicking out in all directions. Strangely, the only noise I seemed able to make sounded a lot like ‘Shoooeeess!!’

This whole ‘my dentist thinks I’m a car’ thing fits in quite neatly with the book I’m reading at the moment, The Crooked God Machine. For a start, it’s a gruelling, often horrifying read set against a charred landscape where death is commonplace and God is on every channel, screaming for the people of Edgewater to repent (okay, so the connection is a loose one!) There are monsters and deadheads, hell shuttles and every character is hideously damaged. The real connection, however, and my reason for bringing it up is that the author, Autumn Christian (great name), is a master of surreal description. The true horror of this book is in the details, the language, which I found myself swimming in rather than reading.

‘I curled up against her ribcage and tried to guess how many birds could hide inside her bones.’

What a beautifully horrific sentiment. I don’t think I’ve ever read such engaging, languid language in such a hopeless context. Everything is wrong in this book. In fact, it’s been so dark and so wrong for so long that it’s now commonplace and no one even reacts anymore. As a reader you begin to feel the same way. Reading about the baby who chews off his own thumb and spits it against the wall in the beginning of the book bent my stomach out of shape, but after many more hours in Christian’s company, I felt as desensitised as the residents of Edgewater. Every description was a pair of bloody dentist’s hands in my mouth that I couldn’t bite off so I may as well accept. Horror isn’t particularly my bag, but the dystopia that the author has created made the book unputdownable and beneath this desperate world is a story of love and spirit. Highly recommended!     

Incidentally, I’ve got to go back to the dentist in a few weeks for treatment and I really hope there’s a different mechanic on that day.
Also incidentally, I’ve just read that Autumn Christian was born in the late eighties of all things. Really makes me wonder what I’ve been doing with my time.  

Diazepam for Sale, the debut novel by Hayley Sherman is now available on Amazon
Time travel as a cure for depression, the Mods and Rockers on the West Pier, a vengeful Sat Nav lady, a seagull-stalked Frank Sinatra and Diazepam for sale... 
A fairytale for a prozac nation...
Fiction for a world that doesn't behave the way it should....  

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