Monday, March 24, 2008

Something Borrowed, Everything New

There are good ideas and there are great ideas.

Naming a band 'Dogs Die in Hot Cars' and my own plan to remake Seven Brides for Seven Brothers using only the music of 'The Smiths' are good ideas.

Tetris, naming a band 'The Jesus and Mary Chain', and Joss Whedon making his vampire slayer a hot young Valley girl are great ideas.

But Paul Magrs making his vampire hunter the Bride of Frankenstein? Now that's a superb idea.

Not that I'd want to give the impression that Magrs' series of books about Brenda (Whitby B&B woman and wonderfully human creature of the night) is in any sense a mere extension of Whedon's earlier TV series. As Torchwood amply demonstrated, trying to copy Joss Whedon leads only to crass scenes of alien sex in toilets and tedious yawnfests aplenty - and Paul Magrs isn't the pinching ideas kind of writer in any case. Other writers work isn't so much grist to his mill as an odd kind of mulch fermenting in his head, being subsumed and broken down to its constituent parts before being launched back into the fresh air as something virtually unrecognisable (that sounds a bit arty-farty, I know, but I'm trying to attract a higher class of readership - more people like Steven Fry and Anthony Stewart-Head and fewer like Saffy and Steven :-)

Which brings me neatly to Magrs new book, Something Borrowed, the sequel to Never the Bride, in which all manner of dark and forgotten creatures come burrowing back into the light of day to menace Brenda and Effie(see that's the kind of new, more intellectual segue we're going for now - someone explain what's going on to Scott please).

Opening a little after the events of the first novel in the series, Never The Bride, Something Borrowed features
(as you would expect) many of the cast of that book but also - to the delight of this reader at least - Henry Cleavis, Reg Tyler and the rest of the Smudgelings, as seen in both Magrs' Doctor Who novel, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, and his more recent 'real world' novel, To the Devil - A Diva. Perhaps we can look forward to an appearance of the poodles of Dogworld, horror queen Karla Sorenson and the cast of dodgy soap opera Menswear in future books in the series? Maybe even Iris Wildthyme herself? I can tell you now, that would be cooler than a sculpture of David Bowie made of ice cream. Cooler even than that, if you can imagine such a thing.

Back to the present book though. Hmm, it's not easy to sum up a Paul Magrs book in a single sentence, which might explain why marketing pod-people seem incapable of launching such an individual talent into the literary stratosphere, whilst pedestrian chunderers like JK Rowling rake in hundreds of millions of pounds for their mundane and inept sagas. [Damn, I'm already losing my air of studied professionalism and slipping into my usual stock whining - give me another ten lines and I'll be calling Russell T Davies and Vladimir Romanov a pair of duplicitous shits.]

Let's try that again...

Back to the present book though. Fresh from the discovery that Whitby hosts its very own Hellmouth, Brenda unexpectedly hooks up with old flame, centenarian academic and Smudlgelings' founder member, Henry Cleavis and in doing so awakens long repressed memories from the past. Meanwhile, someone is sending poison pen letters round town, Effie and the Womanzee get shot at, Sheila Manchu turns to the ladies for help and Brenda has some very unexpected visitations in the night.

This is, quite simply, the best book of last year - a marvellous mix of an Alan Moore comic and an Alan Bennett play, packed with the odd, the perverse and the fabulous, stuffed with memorable characters and over-flowing with incident, both humorous and otherwise. Where else but in a Magrs novel would you expect to see both the Bride of Frankenstein rescuing her 100 year old lover from
Goomba the Wicker(work Chair) Man and a genuinely human and touching tale of the strengths which bind friends together?

Nowhere, that's where.

Which is why Magrs is an author to be treasured in these days of writing by rote and publishing only the plastic and the puerile. Do everyone a favour - don't bother buying whatever the latest formulaic Garth Nix bollocks is called and buy Never the Bride instead. Then go to Amazon, ignore the adverts for The
Bejewelled Sword of Wizardry in the Land of Implausible Unicorns and Other Faintly Chirpy Shit and buy Something Borrowed.

You won't regret it, I guarantee it.

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11 Comments:

Blogger SAF said...

Stuart: "fewer like Saffy and Steven :-)"

Why, I don't think anyone's betrayed their loyal fans so blatantly since Rusty and New Who! ;)

3:12 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

SAF: "I don't think anyone's betrayed their loyal fans so blatantly since Rusty and New Who! "

Don't think of it as a betrayal, think of it as a re-imagining! :-)

By this time next week, every second post will be an allegory and I'll only be writing the really important entries, whilst a coterie of friends, acquaintances and people who are willing to really suck up to me write the rest of the blog as badly as I do.

Who wants to be Steven Moffat and/or Paul Cornell in this new blogging world order? And who's a bad enough writer to be Helen Raynor?

4:38 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

Stuart: "Who wants to be Steven Moffat"

I recommend Ian P. He's one of that better class of regulars you're aiming for here :)

Me, I'll just stand by and complain on my blog about the new depths you've plumbed, despite having the likes of Ian on your staff. :)

12:18 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

SAF: "I recommend Ian P. He's one of that better class of regulars you're aiming for here :)"

You'll note that I never mentioned Ian in my list of less salubrious readers :)

SAF: "Me, I'll just stand by and complain on my blog about the new depths you've plumbed, despite having the likes of Ian on your staff. :)"

It's an honourable position to take. In return I'll commission only writers not fit to tie your shoes on the basis that they call me a genius and buy me lots of red wine.

2:10 pm  
Blogger SK said...

I think this may be the first time I've been rejected for not being arty-farty enough, so I'm just enjoying the novelty for the moment.

11:53 am  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

SK: "I think this may be the first time I've been rejected for not being arty-farty enough"

That's a very good point.

You can stay, so long as you help me throw that drunken swine Forward out :)

2:03 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

Stuart: "You can stay, so long as you help me throw that drunken swine Forward out :)"

The more I drink the heavier I get and the more difficult to throw anywhere. It's not just for the alcohol I've cultivated this lifestyle of mine, you know. :)

12:35 pm  
Blogger goofy said...

I just finished this book and I enjoyed it very much indeed.

1:43 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

It's very good. Have you heard the radio adaptation of the first part of the sequel?

2:05 pm  
Blogger goofy said...

what?

6:22 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

The first half of the third book in the series was adapated by Paul for radio and was on the radio (Starring Gareth Thomas) in March.

6:31 pm  

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