Invasion of the blog-snatchers...
Writer John Baker's new book Winged with Death is about time and tango and revolution, and is currently enjoying an ingenious extended launch, cyberspace-hopping through blogsites worldwide and collecting appreciative reviews along the way. Today is my turn to welcome this novel and its enterprising author.
The first thing that impressed me is the fluency of the writer’s voice. The story is narrated by Frederick Boyle, aka Ramon Bolio, who establishes a dual time-zone from the outset. As an older man now living in England, he looks back to the journey of the boy he once was, jumping ship in Uruguay and finding a new name and a new life. His mentor Julio is introduced in a striking pen portrait as a man of aphorisms, sometimes making sense but more often devoid of context. ‘Middle-class is the definition of criminality’ he would tell me, or ‘I don’t use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough.’ And then we’re back in now, and a new character sidles into the room and onto the page: an interruption that upsets the flow… It’s this intriguing combination of adventure story and real-time immediacy that for me makes this novel so compelling, with its suggestion of continuing dualism as shadows from the past emerge and reconnect.
I asked John about this notion of threads linking the past to the present, and the unpredictable pattern of the dance; these themes, he feels, emerged as he wrote rather than being catalysts. “In the beginning there was the dream of Montevideo, an obsession with time and the wish to utilize dance as a metaphor. I don't believe I had more than that. The novel was the product of my immersing myself in these three and experimenting with the various ways they might combine.”
John Baker has published 8 novels already but this is the first time he’s gone galactic, as it were, with promotion. Feedback, he says, has been mostly positive, but “the tour has been hard work in a way I never quite imagined - touring, even virtual touring means actually engaging in a way that my day-to-day working life as a writer shields me from. So there is a sense in which I'm 'whacked' as though I've been on a real road for the past few weeks. On the other hand it has, of course, been exhilarating to feel that kind of support that only can come from people who are engaged in the same struggle as oneself, either as writers or as readers.”
John picked his hosts from the links of literary blogs on his own blog. “Some of them run popular sites with relatively large followings, others are little more than personal blogs. I wanted the book to find itself in as many various environments as possible. This seems to me to be the destiny of a book.”
You can read the first chapter here. Tell John what you think, and let me know what you think of this creative new notion of host- blogging.