Brendan Connell's The Galaxy Club was published by Chômu Press in February 2014.
Information about Brendan Connell:
Brendan Connell was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1970. He has had fiction published in numerous places, including McSweeney’s, Adbusters, and the World Fantasy Award winning anthologies Leviathan 3 (The Ministry of Whimsy 2002), and Strange Tales (Tartarus Press 2003). His published books are: The Translation of Father Torturo (Prime Books, 2005), Dr. Black and the Guerrillia (Grafitisk Press, 2005), Metrophilias (Better Non Sequitur, 2010), Unpleasant Tales (Eibonvale Press, 2010), The Life of Polycrates and Other Stories for Antiquated Children (Chômu Press, 2011), The Architect (PS Publishing, 2012), Lives of Notorious Cooks (Chômu Press, 2012), Miss Homicide Plays the Flute (Eibonvale Press, 2013) and The Cutest Girl in Class (co-written with Quentin S. Crisp and Justin Isis, Snuggly Books, 2013).
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about The Galaxy Club:
In the early 1970s in northern New Mexico, a hitch-hiker, a man on the run, finds himself in a small, rural village. The village is no average village and its vaudeville of characters, who run the gamut from the mystical to the ludicrous, have a secret. The Galaxy Club is at once a romance of frenzied alcoholism and an adventure of out-of-luck anthropomorphism. It is a mythological roman noir, both savage and poetic, its gyroscopic rhythm of narration maintaining a precarious balance in a high-wire act of tragicomedy and magical spectacle.
A REVIEW OF BRENDAN CONNELL'S THE GALAXY CLUB
It's possible that Brendan Connell may be an unknown author to several readers, because his novels and short stories have been published by small independent publishers, so I'll start this review by writing a few things about him.
Brendan Connell is one of the best, most experimental and most imaginative authors of speculative fiction and literary fiction. He has written all kinds of speculative fiction (fantasy, horror etc) and literary fiction. His novels and stories differ so much from what's become the norm for speculative fiction and literary fiction that reading them is wonderfully refreshing. He dares to widen and push the boundaries of speculative fiction into new and exciting directions. He's one of the few modern authors who have an ability to surprise, mesmerize and shock the readers with original stories.
If The Galaxy Club is the first novel by Brendan Connell that you're about to read, it may take a while to get used to the author's writing style, but I guarantee that once you get used to it, you're hooked. It's important to be openminded when reading Brendan Connell's novels and stories, because he's one of those authors who can surprise you with all kinds of plot twists and unexpected happenings. If you enjoy reading literary speculative fiction and you've never read Brendan Connell before, you should put his novels and short story collections immediately on your reading list, because you're in for a real treat. You won't regret reading them.
I was very impressed by The Galaxy Club. It's without a doubt one of the best and most original novels of 2014. It was so good a novel that I had to read it twice before I began to write this review.
It's a bit difficult to categorize The Galaxy Club, because it contains several elements from fantastical elements to mainstream elements (just like other novels and stories by Brendan Connell, this novel defies easy categorization). I think that the best way to categorize this novel is to say that it's a bold combination of noir fiction, mythology and speculative fiction.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
The story takes place in northern New Mexico in the 1970s. The story begins when a mysterious wanderer called Cleopatra comes to the village where a secret cult exists. Cleopatra meets different people and hears about gold... At the same time the Blue Boy with the Demon Taming Stick kills a fish. It's a mistake, because the dead fish turns out to be the Smooth Stone Dragon, nephew of Big Water Boss. This death upsets the Galaxy Club and they decide to take revenge on the Blue Boy... This is the beginning of an unforgettable chain of events.
There are several characters in this novel. The cast of characters is just as versatile and weird as the happenings. To be honest, I was amazed by the amount of characters, because normally authors tend to avoid using a large cast of characters in noir novels. I think it's good that the author has created a large and versatile cast of characters, because the amount of characters and their individual stories add depth to the story.
The narrative switches perfectly between the different characters and the reader sees the happenings from different perspectives. The relationships between the characters are complex and as the story begins to open up the reader will notice that the author has paid lots of attention to many details. Brendan Connell has always created interesting characters, but he has matured a lot during the last couple of years and now he writes about the characters in an even better and more convincing way than before.
Here's my thoughts about some of the characters:
- The Blue Boy with the Demon Taming Stick is a bit different kind of a character, because he was born blue. He wanders around the village with his Demon Taming Stick.
- Cleopatra represents a classic wandering character that mysteriously drifts into the village. He can also be seen as a catalyst. Brendan Connell writes intriguingly about him and avoids the most typical cliches that are associated with wandering characters.
- The Blue Boy and Cleopatra can be seen as catalysts, because both of them set things into motion.
- Alfonso is a well constructed and complex character. In my opinion he's one of the best created characters ever to appear in this kind of novels. I won't write more about him, because I might reveal too much information about him and his life, but I'll mention that the two chapters that have been written from his point of view are excellent.
- The Prawn Dragon Colonel, L 5 Flower and Coyote Ferox complement the other characters. These characters make this novel truly come alive, because they're the kind of characters that only Brendan Connell can create. His vision of these characters is both fascinating and a bit skewed.
- The Prawn Dragon Colonel is an interesting character, because he's the great grandson of Poseidon. He has seen and experienced much suffering. He's one of the characters who is outraged by what the Blue Boy did and how insolent he is.
- Coyote Ferox reminded me of the classic animal fables I used to read when I was younger. He's described as a cunning character, because he isn't reliable and tricks others. His meeting with the Blue Boy and its outcome is one of the highlights of this novel.
What's especially interesting is that the author writes about the Demon Taming Stick and other objects as real characters. These objects have feelings and thoughts, so they're like real characters. This adds a delightfully surreal atmosphere to the story.
The author writes unflichingly about the gritty atmosphere and the happenings in the town. The grittiness manifests itself in many ways in the story and the author doesn't shy away from unpleasant material. For example, what the Blue Boy does to the dragon and to Our Little Lady of the Trunk is brutal. Cleopatra is also treated in a violent way.
One of the best things about The Galaxy Club is that the author manages to deliver a story that's simultaneously realistic and fantastical. The realistic and fantastical elements exist in perfect harmony in this story and the natural world clashes fascinatingly with the spirit world creating intriguing and unexpected consequences for all who are involved in the happenings.
It's great that Brendan Connell doesn't underestimate the intelligence of his readers. He assumes that his readers are capable of figuring things out for themselves and don't need to be given easy answers. Intelligent readers will be able to read a lot between the lines (this is one of the reasons why this novel is a rewarding reading experience). For example, compelling sexual undertones can be found in the story.
I've read quite a lot of books which have mythological elements in them, but there are only a handful authors who can write about them as well as Brendan Connell, because he manages to use them in an effortless way. I'm sure that all readers who read about the Galaxy Club will be pleasantly surprised by the author's use of mythological and fantastical elements.
The author writes flawless literary prose and readers are immediately drawn in to his beautiful and nuanced prose. Because this novel is partly noir fiction, there's a darker and grittier edge to the prose than in the author's previous stories and novels. This is nice, because the gritty prose highlights the roughness of the characters and the weirdness of the happenings.
As I mentioned earlier, I read this novel twice. Reading it twice was nice, because it gave me a chance to think about the happenings. In my opinion this novel benefits from re-reading, because it has a complex structure. When you re-read this novel, you'll notice that the author has infused the story with several small details.
The Galaxy Club is a novel that is simultaneously intellectually stimulating, gorgeously experimental and savagely gritty. It differs nicely from Brendan Connell's previous novels and stories. I don't remember reading a novel like this before, because it goes beyond the normal boundaries of literary noir fiction and ventures delightfully into the realm of speculative fiction. It's almost like a literary marriage of fantasy and realism, because they blend seamlessly into each other.
If you're looking for a novel that will both astound you and make you wonder about the happenings, Brendan Connell's The Galaxy Club is what you've been looking for. The author has created a fascinating story that is full of intriguing characters, weirdness and grittiness. It's a literary masterpiece that deserves to be read by as many readers as possible.