Just read three novel/las with distinct parallels in tone/theme, haunted works, in their own way.
White Tears - Hari Kunzru - I've read work by Hari before and caught him on a panel at EIBF a few years ago and been meaning to read this for a while. The first part of the book is wonderfully written, lots of stuff about field recording, environmental sound and the role of music in transporting the listener. But as it goes on it becomes increasingly unsettling. Seth is nobody particularly, but becomes best friends with Carter, who is one of the most popular guys in university, tattooed, dreadlocked, son of wealth. It is sound that brings them together. Carter keeps pushing further back in time, driven, only listening to black music, searching for an overwhelming authenticity. Seth captures something on his soundwalks of New York, through obsession and careful tracking through recordings they find a ghost record. But of course, they don't understand that, until it is too late. A book about music, about authenticity and appropriation, about wealth and who it was built on. As narratives layer is becomes harder to follow, and at times I wasn't always sure I was keeping track. I think a lot of that is deliberate, to unsettle the reader and build on the novel's core haunting.
The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky - John Hornor Jacobs - I guess after the success of tor's novella line, and various other small publishers wading into the field, it isn't surprised to see someone like Voyager give it a go. I stumbled on this over the weekend and pretty much read it cover to cover in last day or so. Isabel is living in Malaga, a black clad, lesbian, professor and exile from a South American coup. When she stumbles on The Eye, as the one eyed old man is known locally, she recognises in an almost uncanny way, that they have fled from the same country. After they become friends she learns his true identity as an infamous, lecherous poet. He gets a mysterious letter and decides he must go home, he leaves her money and asks her to take care of his flat, and to "feed the cat, for your protection". There she finds two works, one a translation in progress of a book she realises to be "forbidden knowledge" and the other the account of how this material came into his possession and how he was tortured as a result. The more sucked in she becomes the more uncertain she finds reality, presences in the dark and strange experiences. A good quick read, too much of it perhaps revolves around The Eye's journals, but with that you get the haunted sense of exile and uncertainty.
We Get The Monsters We Deserve - Marcus Sedgwick - this was one of my fairly spontaneous purchases at the EIBF 2018, I think it was in the kids shop, a YA novel perhaps. Though, I think in this case that is fairly irrelevant. Regardless the book is illustrated, interspersed with shots of trees, and books, and odd little things, so that the ~260 pages probably becomes more of a novella length when you take that into account. Marcus has decided to move to the abyss, or at least half way up a mountain, into a decrepit little chalet somewhere between Geneva and Evian, just before winter comes in. Marcus, a writer, is seeking monsters, seeking to write his next book, but he is haunted. He hates Mary's book, and yet it haunts him. As the narrative progresses we learn Mary's book is Frankenstein, and that Marcus has triangulated locations in the book to find himself where he is. Told as a letter to his publisher he goes through the process of asking why he is even there, to an increased sense of isolation as he hears noises in the night, escalating as he increasingly feels trapped. So White Tears is haunted by music, Sea/Sky by exile, and Monsters by a book. But at least of the three of them, this one doesn't include any torture! Unless you are a writer, I suppose, in which case it explores ideas of ownership and creativity, where do we lose ownership, do we create the monsters, or do they create us?
I managed to be unsettled by all three, especially reading them all in such close proximity. I suspect White Tears is the most important of the three, but probably also the most difficult.