A few years ago I read Patrick Warner’s One Hit Wonders and said: “One Hit Wonders is such a unique reading experience that I wanted more.”
I got what I asked for – another unique reading experience – one that is darkly humorous, bold, challenging, and visceral. This book is not for the casual reader or faint of heart.
The Toronto Star calls it: “Scathing, riotous…Warner’s writing throughout is electric. It’s boisterous, bawdy, turbocharged and entirely entertaining. Apostle John is the best kind of narrator — loudly confident one moment, humble and introspective the next, a man of sage opinions and witty, often heartbreaking anecdotes about [his friends] Budsy and Floss, migration, philosophy, music, and the world at large…. My Camino is an energizing read, a book that asks cheeky and powerful questions about what it means to create (or abstain) in the early 21st Century.”
The plot is not easy to describe. In a nutshell, it’s about three artists (Floss, Budsy and Apostle John) from New York who seem to be given a big break by a well-known guy on the scene (Man in Cream Suit or MiCS). But Floss has some news that she shares with her friends while biking the Camino (backwards), and their trip to Europe becomes one of revenge.
How we didn’t fit in was all we had in common.
The story is narrated by Apostle John. As he tells their story, he offers insights and reflections on the characters and on life in general. He seems to be the most level-headed of the three – maybe not quite as into the art world as the other two. He’s almost as horrified by Budsy’s final performance as the audience: “The previous night was a flickering nightmare, a charnel house, a hag dream where you’re paralized and suffocating and trying to wake up but you can’t.” (Things get graphic, to say the least.)
The art world was a horror. I pictured rooms filled with the living dead, those whose only interest in you was to find out what you thought about them. Whether you would add to or understand their brand. That’s all they really wanted to know.
Some favourite lines:
I was talking about time, how it flows like cream. How if you put it in the mind’s bowl and turn on the mixmaster, it thickens. Experience and time whipped together have the appearance of something made to last.
The effect was like seeing a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow pull out of a hidden driveway when you’ve got one eye on a trash compactor making a U-turn and the other on an aggressive cyclist coming up from behind in the inside lane just as a flock of gulls swoops down on a raccoon feasting curbside on a slice of thin-crust pizza.
Floss felt strange, unreal, a loose tooth in the gum of reality.
I was the Carl Lewis of rabbit skinners.
Another unique read, but in a quieter, less wacky way. (Not that wacky is bad – I love wacky.)
From the London Times: “…this novel billows around you like a queasy dream, its grand scenery and awful characters combining to take us out of the real world and into another, oddly shimmering version of it.”
Henry is a self-involved actor. He spends much of his time thinking about himself, staying in shape, auditioning for bigger and better roles, and taking advantage of his female fans. Kristin is wealthy and divorced and a huge fan of Henry’s. They met at an airport a year and a half ago, and she imagines it’s their destiny to be together.
Henry’s movements on the screen, his expressions, the exhilarating moments of his smiles, his emotions, the dialogue in that beautiful accent that she could speak along with – it was all a timeless connection. She ate and she watched all the precise little moments, her mind fully fastened to them. She could stay like this until the daylight darkened and the neighbours’ cars, returning from work, passed like aeroplanes overhead.
We spend most of our time with Henry as he goes about his everyday life; talking to his agent, going to auditions, eating as little as possible in order to lose weight for his next role, talking to his parents, going out with his friends. But the best thing about the book is the time we spend inside their heads. Both are obsessed with the same person: Henry.
He avoided media. News of a film, trailers for TV shows, interviews with actors could all hurt him with an envy that felt like cramp, like impotent anger at injustice. He knew that it was wrong, that seeing yet another photograph of Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hiddleston made no difference to anything. but he was helpless, particularly now that everything hung in the balance,
Anne calls reading about fictional celebrities “a special kind of fun. You get the embarrassing pleasure of reading about fame, riches and popularity without the self-loathing that comes along with a copy of US Weekly.”
The biggest question is, what will come of it? But the journey is every bit as good as the answer.
(All quotations from My Camino and Dream Sequence are taken from Uncorrected Proofs provided to me by Biblioasis.)
23 thoughts on “‘My Camino’ by Patrick Warner and ‘Dream Sequence’ by Adam Foulds”
“Floss felt strange, unreal, a loose tooth in the gum of reality.” This line alone makes me want to read the book. You do know how to give a review, Naomi!
Thanks, Donna! It’s a good line, isn’t it? 🙂
I do like those Patrick Warner quotes but I’m a little wary of the faint heart warning and the mention of a charnel house.
You might like to try his poetry instead. I keep meaning to try it myself!
I liked Dream Sequence — it was the good kind of weird.
LOL I’m not sure that this one is for me but I really enjoyed the review.
I aim to please. 🙂
These both sound good, especially the second one. On the whole I find fictional celebs far more interesting than the real ones, and I love your line that “Both are obsessed with the same person: Henry.” 😀
I agree with you – even if I could keep all the celebrities straight (which I can’t), their lives often depress me.
These both sound excellent but I’m a bit wary of both – the first for your warning and the second because I don’t want to spend much time with Henry! Great reviews Naomi 🙂
Dream Sequence is short and quick, which might have been intentional for that very reason – no one will have to spend *too* much time with Henry!
Thanks for the shout-out lady! Yes, it’s a fun book isn’t it? And I like that you pointed out the fact they’re obsessed with the same person – they were both pretty unlikable on the whole
They were. But, like you said in your review, even though I didn’t ‘get’ either of them, I was still interested in seeing where it all went!
There seem to be a lot of books about just now set in the art world. My Camino sounds like something I would really like.
I was thinking the same thing, but thought it might have just been me. It seems like a good combination for you!
The second one sounds appealing… not something I’d pick up on my own but you make it sound enticing! I remember that Anne did too!
I know I’ve been reviewing a bunch of “off-the-wall” type books lately – I’m glad to know one appeals to you! 🙂
I want to know, who were you picturing in the time of henry? Sometimes I was picturing Hugh Grant, sometimes Dan Stevens 😁
I didn’t know Dan Stevens until now, but he’s so close to what I was picturing! 🙂
Haha. I loved him in Downton Abbey. Not to the point where I wrote him two letters a week though 🙂
Ooh… him! It was so sad when he died! (On the show – I don’t want to start any rumours…)