Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat review + interview @ Zouch Magazine

“The hard-drinking, hard-boiled and witty hero, Floyd, would usually be the detective in a [Raymond] Chandler story but here in the “new” Melbourne, post-event, he’s placed in a bubble-like world as a “Seeker”, with more authority than a Chander detective, to seek, locate, apprehend, contain and terminate Deviants.

“Chandler’s heroes have to fight the system to get some resolution and Bergen’s hero is no different. He’s only doing the job to pay his sick wife’s hospital bills, and he never gets to see her. He lives with the nagging fear of being “relocated” but somehow can’t keep his acerbic mouth shout. He’s constantly in trouble with authority, despite being in authority himself. And just as in Chandler’s novels, the hero’s instincts usually turn out to be correct.

“Ultimately however what makes this book a good read is not plot nor form, but observation, wit and dialogue.

“In the background of a wasteland, Bergen makes as many allusions to film as T.S. Eliot made to literature. There’s a useful “Encylopedia Tobacciana” at the end of the novel which you can check out if you’re not sure what a reference is to, and similarly a glossary for the slang contained in the novel. These add to the sense of the quirky, as does the calligraphy in the book itself and the typeset. Chandler could perhaps be scratching his head about some of this, safe up in heaven-dead, but his own writing always struck me as kind of idiosyncratic, and we’re living in different times now, brother. In a modern age of conspiracies and corporate agglomerates, I think he’d be pleased as to where Bergen has taken his legacy…

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