Last year, Andrez Bergen leaped onto the scene with Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, with a cover and title that thoroughly convinced me of the book’s appeal before I’d ever read a page.
This summer, his second book, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude, will be released, and I was lucky enough to get an early look.
In some ways, these are two very different books. TSMG is a sci-fi noir thriller set in post-apocalyptic Melbourne, while One Hundred Years is a more literary venture about one man’s swim through purgatory with an obtuse, lovely Japanese guide.
Yet both books are smart, filled with dark (and light) humor, littered with cultural and media references both popular and obscure, and told from the perspective of cynical, sensitive, likable, alcohol-loving protagonists trying to navigate their way through confusing, morally questionable worlds. Both are told in the author’s inimitable narrative style–Bergen relishes wacky tangents and dives head-first into philosophical dialogues that prove to be some of the most satisfying parts of his books.
Bottom line is that both of these are highly original, challenging yet thoroughly enjoyable novels. Bergen has a voice all his own and I’ll be on the look out for wherever he pops up next. And his work is published by Another Sky Press, a Portland organization that takes a very different (and welcome) approach to publishing.
CHRIS RHATIGAN, June 2012Andrez Bergen