Monday, February 12, 2007

Explorers of the New Century

Magnus Mills has been one of my favourite authors for a few years now ever since he gave up bus-driving and wrote his first novel which got short-listed for, I think, the Booker. His prose is marvellously understated (I could learn) and everything is almost but not quite an allegory. Some people I know (mainly women) hate him to death but most of my male friends who read love him.

His latest book is, I think, his best. It is a tale of two groups of men trying to reach a point further from civilisation than anywhere else.

They are not in competition but their competitive streaks show. And the whole point of the exercise is to take some mules there to see if they will be able to survive.

Do persevere if you find it a little slow. The twist just over half way through caught me out completely and made me revisit the whole of the first half of the book to see if I'd missed clues.

Mills is an ingenious deviser of tales and a superb user of sparse prose - the story teller Kafka never was I reckon. To be fair Kafka finished few books and ordered that on his death his manuscripts be destroyed. We only have his novels because his instructions were not carried out.

Explorers of the New Century is short, very funny (although you'll need to like your comedy wearing those darker hues) and can be read in one sitting of about an hour and a half. Go on.

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