I’ve seen The future and and it’s… Noir. Tobacco-stained noir, at that.
Andrez Bergen’s brilliant Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is set in a dystopian version of Melbourne, in a not-too-distant future, after some sort of catastrophe has wiped out the rest of the world.
The city itself is split into different parts. The uptown area is known as The Dome, a squeaky clean and shining consumerist paradise where the plastic surgery enhanced and empty headed rich live. Outside the Dome, though, it’s a little different. These are dangerous and mean streets, riddled with run down bars, fast food joints. And Deviants.
Now, most Deviants are ‘relocated’ elsewhere, keeping the city straight, but some go on the run and it’s the job of the Seekers to track them down. Floyd Maquina is such a Seeker, enrolled so he can afford to pay for his wife’s hospital bills. Maquina is a great creation – a boozy, chain-smoking, smart-mouthed amalgam of every private eye you’ve ever seen on the silver screen.
Since the late part of the twentieth century, so many of us have seen the real world filtered through the television or film cameraman’s lens. And Floyd Maquina is just one of those people. As is Bergen, of course. Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is littered, almost cluttered, with cultural references from Sam Spade to Kurosowa to Cabaret Voltaire to, more obviously, Blade Runner. And is in danger at times of drowning in the stuff but it doesn’t, due mainly to the great characters and Andrez Bergen’s witty, snappy and immensely addictive writing.
With Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, Bergen has created one of the most vibrant, inventive, exciting, funny and purely enjoyable novels I’ve read since I don’t know when. There’s no other way to say it: I bloody loved this book, and I want more!
PAUL D. BRAZILL, June 2012Andrez Bergen