Sunday, August 02, 2009

Kill Clock

Allan Guthrie's 2007 novella Kill Clock is part of a series for "adult reluctant readers," but I'm guessing enthusiastic readers will like it, too:

"Scotland’s weather was good on the whole. Apart from the summer when Gordon Pearce got too hot. Nothing worse than the sun on your skin, making your armpits prickle and your back as wet as a river-bed.

"But, no, it was spring, and here he was, walking down to the beach in his t-shirt.


"Taking his three-legged dog, Hilda, for a walk."

and

"Now, it wasn’t as if Pearce had suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. He’d been crossing at an even pace. And when he’d set foot off the pavement, there was no traffic. This peanut-headed arse-hole had pulled out without looking. Or maybe it was on purpose. Which was even worse.

"The driver stuck his head out of the car window again, and said, `Why the fuck don’t you move? And take your stupid dog with you.'

"What the fuck was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he just be polite? These days, everyone was a rude fuck."

What's going on here? Short, punchy sentences. A scene made up of short bits of action — mini-scenes — each with a punch line of its own. And bits of rough humor. Sounds like this could also work for reluctant writers.

Read a sample chapter from Kill Clock here.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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12 Comments:

Blogger Fred said...

Sounds to me as though he's shooting for the comic book readers. A possible attempt to wean them away from pictures. Get them to be able to read and grasp a story that has only words.

August 03, 2009  
Blogger Dana King said...

I recently read my first Guthrie novel, SLAMMER. An odd but compelling read. Definitely worth looking at more of him.

August 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I don't know how many children read comics these days. The old market for the kiddie comics that I read as a child is not what it once was.

But yes, this book is an effort to get non-readers reading, whatever it is they're being weaned from. And there's a place or two in the sample chapter where that aim seems noticeable. But what struck me most is how well the clipped sentences and well-organized scenes worked.

That's a lesson any writer could keep in mind.

August 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, I've Guthrie's Savage Night, Hard Man and Killing Mum recently, and I'm tracking down Kill Clock. I'd recommend all. I think they're not quite as dark as Slammer, but they're dark and violent enough, and with plenty of humor. I've commented on all of them elsewhere on this blog, if you'd care to take a look.

August 03, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

You don't find the clipped sentences to be tedious after awhile?

August 05, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I did not in this short selection, probably because the division into short scenes kept things moving quickly. I'll know more once I've read the whole book, though.

August 05, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

I'd be interested to hear what you think after finishing the book.



v-word: coholes

hmmmm

August 05, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll weigh in once I've tracked the book down. It's published by a specialty house and not easily available in the U.S. At the very least, the book is an interesting and thought-provoking technical exercise.

August 05, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Sorry, I didn't realize that you were working from excerpts. No rush on it.

August 05, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I read an excerpt to which I linked from Allan Guthrie's Web site. I am no reluctant reader myself; I'd be happy to have the whole book at hand.

August 05, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, Did you ever get a copy of this novella? I've just requested it via ILL from the library at work.

Re Fred's comment on "tedious clipped sentences." I'm finding I generally like them the way Guthrie does them. It seems a kind of shorthand for the way people process information, for the way they "speak" in their minds before the words come out as speech.

So far, I certainly prefer Guthrie's abbreviated (maybe I'd call it terse) style (I've read 4 of his novels) to a similar approach found in Ken Bruen's more self-conscious style. (I've read his first 2 Jack Taylors.) Bruen's dictum that everybody's gotta be as witty as everybody else and the constant flow of clipped sentences, many consisting mainly of mannered, oh-so-clever one-liners can wear on this reader.

June 02, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I probably like Bruen's style a bit more than you do, but I'll agree that Guthrie's is decidedly more deadpan.

I never did track down Kill Clock. Perhaps I ought to now.

June 02, 2010  

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