by Simon Lane
Published by Bridge Works
Buy it online
In many ways, Fear is a three-sided suspense novel without any of the usual suspects. Set in contemporary Paris, Fear is the main character. Mr. Fear, to some: but mostly Fear: and if he has a first name, I didn't catch it.
Fear swore. He had turned off the ringer on the telephone, and he had turned down the volume on the answering machine, and he had wrapped the answering machine in a sweater, and he had put the answering machine and the sweater into his suitcase and jammed it shut, cutting a hole in the lip of the case with his Swiss army knife so that the lead would be able to pass through. But he could still hear a distant click when someone called, followed by his own voice, muffled, unreal, echoing within the case as if he, and not just the tape, were lodged inside.
Lane's humor is sufficiently understated that children of the soundtrack generation might not know where to laugh. Somehow, that makes it funnier still.
And while he walked, he thought about himself and his world, and he knew that all he had was his writing, however good or bad it might be; he knew that it was the only thing that kept him going...
The combination of no money, piles of debt and no real project to work on leaves him hungry in many ways, so when his bank manager suggests he think of something more commercial to work on, Fear doesn't discount the idea out of hand.
The work Fear begins becomes a sub-text in the novel, as we follow his characters through their physical and emotional contortions and watch the hungers that are -- not surprisingly -- not entirely unlike Fear's own.
Fear looked through the window, and the ball bounced across the courtyard. One of the Arab boys ran past Eton's window and kicked it back toward the opposite end. A woman cried out to his right, the Arab boy laughed, a truck could be heard racing down the street, and the sun rose higher in the sky, making Fear wipe his brow as if he had undertaken a journey and stopped for a moment in the shade somewhere to rest.
Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine. Her fourth novel, Blue Murder, will be published early in 2008 by St. Martin's Minotaur.