October 17, 2012

Mini-review: "Backwards the Drowned Go Dreaming," by Carl Watson

(CCLaP publishes mini-reviews of both books and movies on a regular basis, none lasting more than a few hundred words. A full list of CCLaP's book-based mini-reviews can be found on its main book page, and movies on the main movie page.)

Backwards the Drowned Go Dreaming, by Carl Watson

Backwards the Drowned Go Dreaming
By Carl Watson
Sensitive Skin Books

Although I admire the attitudes and goals of Sensitive Skin Books, I have to confess that so far I haven't particularly cared for any of the actual titles by them I've now read, with Carl Watson's Backwards the Drowned Go Dreaming being a perfect example of this; because this tale of down-and-outers is not so much a three-act narrative story as it is an endless string of platitudes and cliches stretched one right after each other for 200 pages, which I find admirable in theory but tiring to actually read. An old-school ode to lumpen-proletarians that shambles without structure from one biker bar and drug den to the next, as our hero takes a Beat-inspired road trip without much of a destination or even purpose, it's this chain of tropes that is precisely the book's main problem; for while Watson is to be commended for admiring and mimicking the typical Mid-Century-Modernist countercultural rambling anti-hero tale, it's also important to note that this type of tale is now edging on 60 years old, and has been so repeated so many times over the decades that simply doing a good job at it is no longer enough to make for a compelling piece of fiction. Well done for what it is, and absolutely a heartfelt ode to the fringes of our society, it unfortunately doesn't bring a single new thing to a story type that most of us have now seen hundreds and hundreds of times, and it should be kept in mind before picking up a copy yourself.

Out of 10: 7.5

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:46 AM, October 17, 2012. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |