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August 04, 2003

Hugo's Novel

Friedrich --

I just last night finished reading The Execution, the first novel by Hugo Wilcken, an occasional commenter here at 2Blowhards (you can find some good Hugo-comments on this posting here). Pleased to report it's a good 'un, and that I enjoyed it a lot. Camus meets Brett Easton Ellis, with maybe a little Graham Greene and some "Notes from Underground" thrown in as well. Psych-suspense (actually I'd call it psych-horror) about a young Londoner (about to turn 30) who works for a human rights group; his artist girlfriend and their daughter; and the campaign he's running for an African who's been sentenced to death ...

Pitch-perfect portrayal of a type we all know -- paranoid and blanked-out at the same time, self-absorbed and prematurely world-weary, failing to connect yet unable to extend himself far enough to ask for help, desperate yet peevish -- not a novel (chuckle chuckle) for those who prefer a likable or attractive protagonist, in other words. It isn't what anyone would call a plot-driven book, either. Instead, it's constructed like a piece of poetry or music, with motifs and echoes bouncing off each other this way and that. This is one of those novels that works by burying a bomb 'way down deep, setting it off, and then letting the explosion rise to the surface in slow, ultra-controlled (and sly and enlightening) ways ...

Plus a fabulous use of voice. Here's a short passage I've pulled out of the book at random:

That evening the phone rang while I was reading Jessica a bedtime story. Marianne was in the garden, so I got up to answer it, with Jessica pulling at my shirt. Before I even picked up the receiver, though, somehow I knew it was Christian and I had this visceral desire not to talk to him. I just felt it wouldn't be good for me.

Perfecto Gen X Meursault: narcissistic (look at the way everything comes back 'round to the narrator); noncommittal in a droning, vague way (look at those overcaffeinated-yet-exhausted extra words: "somehow," "this," "just"); unpleasant and irritable yet screaming "help me" at the same time.

Hats off to Hugo. First-rate: a slim, easy read -- always appreciated -- but with a hefty payoff.

You can buy Hugo's book here.



posted by Michael at August 4, 2003


"...somehow I knew it was Christian and I had this visceral desire not to talk to him. I just felt it wouldn't be good for me."

It kinda aounds like an organ should then go "dah DAHHH"---making sure the audience knows it's significant. He does sort of sound like Fred MacMurray in "Double Indemnity" though.

Posted by: cindyincidentally on August 4, 2003 7:39 PM

Yeah, that's true: very film noir, eh? Actually you're making me think of Eric Ambler, the spy novelist -- and that reminds me a bit too of Hugo's novel.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 4, 2003 11:21 PM

Michael, thanks for your very kind words. Much appreciated, and I'm really pleased you enjoyed my book. Another one is nearing completion - a very different kettle of fish. Set in a French penal colony, sort of Papillon meets Heart Of Darkness if you can get your head around that bizarre concept...

Posted by: Hugo on August 5, 2003 8:03 AM

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