So, Indifferent Voices, what's that about?
Here’s the blurb:
Indifferent Voices is a novel about the state of London in 2015. It contains interviews with people who work in The City. From financiers to florists, bankers to bicycle thieves, postmen to poets. 65 voices, all with stories to tell, collated and presented by co-editors Gary Twynam and Shelley Swanson.
The book looks at life after the banking crisis, at austerity, and at the notion of amorality. The interviews precede the vote for Brexit but in many ways anticipate it.
Help much? No? How about, it's TS Eliot's the Waste Land, updated and re-packaged for a new London and a new world? Yep, that’s probably one good reason why I couldn’t find a publisher.
Okay, how about what the people who read it in its various stages of pupation? From kindly first readers through to potential publishers. Here’s some of their feedback. (As an aside, TS Eliot himself used to put his own reviews on the flyleaf of his own Faber and Faber books.)
"I really connected with the concept of this book. Not enough to publish it, admittedly…"
"I found myself laughing quite a lot, probably not at the bits I was supposed to, but still."
"There's no obvious narrative and it's very nearly unreadable which, given its nod to TS Eliot, I assume is intentional."
“Really good, some of it excellent. Just finished it and the nice dark twist to Joan was a great one to end on, plus the ‘noiseless, faceless, unheard.’”
“When I started I wasn’t sure about the various lengths and styles but after a bit it had a nice rhythm to it – also found bits and pieces popping into my thoughts. Like it a lot.”
“I think the bloke in the hat did something terrible.”
“I liked the structure. In my head they were a series of small stories that I could dip into and out of, read the voices in isolation or flick through to headings that took my fancy.”
“I do wish you well with this: it is a genuinely interesting idea and the writing is consistently good.”
'Who's Shelley, and how come you've never mentioned her before?'
“It is very clever and much of the writing shines with wit and subtle observation. I also like the sense of you being a Londoner who is now able to see London from a distance but also with a nostalgia of once belonging. It's Eliot-like in its elegiac tone and I really love that about it. “
"Is it readable?", I'd say "yes, but only just..."
“You haven’t got London right, you haven’t got the bankers right, and you haven’t got the other voices right.”
“That Bart White, he should have his own book.”
“How did you choose who to interview and how did you get them all to talk?”
“Sometimes you just have to let art flow over you.”