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Hang Him When He Is Not There Paperback – January 31, 2016
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About the Author
Nicholas John Turner is based in Brisbane, Australia. His non-fiction has appeared in various magazines and news publications, and he is a co-founder and contributor to the celebrated amateur sports publication, Match Day Burger, which the Guardian UK described as "some of the best sports-writing on the web". ‘Hang Him When He Is Not There’ is his first published work of fiction.
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As a contemporary reader, we are so conditioned for certain ‘literary’ expectations. Reading this collection of stories was an incredibly refreshing experience, especially in an era of ‘best sellers’ and the formulaic production of wholly predictable literary fiction.
This slim book knows where it is going and what it wants to do. It doesn’t give you the easy and quick satisfactions of conventional plot, yet it is highly readable; one yearns to know what comes next, how the stories connect, longs to discover the hidden heart. Turner’s prose is highly polished, hypnotic and addictive.
A number of stories are told through a variety of voices – each one compelling, mysterious and entertaining. Although the central thrust is the question of how these stories are connected, each one is complete in of itself.
There are stories about a man with an un-quenchable thirst for alcohol, a reclusive author of genius, raw sexuality in the Caribbean paradise of Cartagena, a man whose existence had been stalled by his unending collection of books, a mysterious death in a nursing home that may or may not be connected to a witch obsessed with reading Gunter Grass. The author includes much in this slim volume, which is not apparent due to the succinctness of the prose.
The stories have a haunting quality. One yearns to know what it is about each that moves or compel us. Like a dream, meaning seems tantalisingly close, but just beyond the reach of understanding. This is its source of power.
That is not to say the novel is difficult. While the novel can be considered as conceptual and avant garde, it is high readable and I read many of the stories, especially ‘The Mystics’, ‘Cartagena’ and ‘What I Mean When I Say’ with a compulsion I have not experienced since reading ‘The Savage Detectives’ by Roberto Bolano.
The disparate stories, seemingly unconnected, in fact are – although it is not made explicitly in any particular section. The readers must do some work here, and Turner does not condescend to lay everything out. The author leaves plenty of room for the reader to bring their own interpretations of meaning. For my own reading, I believe the stories together may be read as the author’s comment about fiction making and authorship and its power to consume both author and reader.
Turner’s enquiry, into the nature of life and literature, is wide, macroscopic. In searching for the link between these stories, I found myself making enquiries of myself of the mysterious passage of my own life and my own relationship with reading literature. This cannot be understated.
I hope you the reader, will take a chance on a piece of daring literature (if that is what you seek). You will be rewarded if you do.