Have you ever read a book that you've been really looking forward to but after you're a few pages in you just know that it isn't for you? Read on, I've got more to say!
Andrez Bergen's Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is amazing, outstanding, clever, entertaining, (oh heck! how I wish I could write like this...) and the book that I almost gave up on.
We've all experienced one of those guys in the pub who is a total film buff or music geek and once he's got you in his gaze doesn't stop telling you about rare 1972 picture disc imports by Pink Floyd until you have literally collapsed in a heap under the table. You know how painful that is, right?
I had that feeling of dread when I started reading this amazing (yes it is wonderful) book. How wrong was I? Yes, it is littered with references to so many aspects of 20th century culture that if you were to pile them all up and take them to the recycling depot you would need an articulated lorry, but as the story starts to kick in and you begin to get a handle on what's going on in this post-apocalypse world inside some huge plastic dome in Melbourne (trust me, it works) you will get totally hooked on this Orwellian Brave New World where the rich are protected from every hardship and the rest struggle to get by amid acid rain and polluted food supplies.
Once I had connected to the Dr Who / Star Trek part of my brain, everything fell into place. Floyd, the protagonist, could easily be David Tennant trying to evade the Cybermen as he tries to find out why society has become so corrupt and ultimately saves the planet yet again mashed up with trials on the holodeck on the Starship Enterprise.
Floyd, it has to be said, is a very reluctant hero and would rather nurse a bottle of cheap vodka and prescription meds lying on his sofa than avenging his wife's death. But this damaged man who seemingly has had his freedom of choice and liberty taken away somehow manages to make you believe that he can make a difference in this horrible, deluded and damaged world.
I love how multi-layered Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is, not like a huge sandwich filled with peperami, cheese, tomato, lettuce, chicken and bacon but more like a huge bowl of broth full of every kind of vegetable, bean, rice and barley that you've every known in your life. Every spoonful brings a different flavour and texture and the aroma is just divine
So I am ashamed to say that I was totally and utterly wrong because this is a fabulous work that shows off the huge potential of Andrez Bergen's talent. Please don't be stupid like me and go read it!
About the Author
Andrez Bergen is an expatriate Australian journalist, musician, DJ, writer, photographer and ad hoc beer & sake connoisseur who's been ensconced in Tokyo, Japan, for the past decade.
Under the alias of Industrial Form he dabbled with graf and filmmaking in the early 1990s, then set up indie electronic record label IF? in 1995, since which time Bergen's also made music under silly aliases like Little Nobody, Funk Gadget and Nana Mouskouri's Spectacles.
Bergen has written for fistfuls of diverse magazines like Mixmag, VICE, Geek Monthy, Impact, Anime Insider, Filmink and Australian Style, as well as newspapers The Age (Australia) and the Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan).
In April 2011 Bergen published his first novel, 'Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat', through Another Sky Press.
He is currently at work on a second novel titled 'One Hundred Years of Vicissitude'