Goodreads?! And reviews!? And stuff!?!

So it turns out I have a Goodreads page that I did not know about. It’s here. I don’t know who made it, or who compiled the information (it’s all accurate, so fair dos to whoever it was). But it was a peculiar thing to come across, especially as it’s got a whole load of quotes from my novella STUFF laid out on it, IMDB-style (a pretty well-chosen selection too), AND the following review of STUFF, which I’m just going to post in its entirety.

I won’t be making a massive deal out of getting reviews (although I must admit I was pretty chuffed to get a 4/5-star one on Den of Geek) or narcissistically posting the text of every single good one (or self-pityingly whinging about / passive-aggressively arguing with every single bad one), but it was just utterly bizarre to see that a complete stranger had taken the time to think about something I’d written, and then write about it. That felt like something that happens to actual writers. Between this and my book launch last Thursday, maybe I am like proper now?!

(Also bonus points to the writer for the consistent misspelling of my name)

Wow. This is such an in toxicating slice of the modern zeistgeist that one hankers for the full cake: Stefan Mahomed could easily have turned his novella into a fully-fledged novel. That this 26-year-old Bristol author has not chosen to done so speaks of a writerly discipline quite rare in one so young.

It is that very youth, however, that is quite likely to irritate as many readers as it intrigues. The dissipated 20-somethings in Stuff are so desperately in search of the (missing) link between meaning and pleasure that the reader often just wants to slap them upside the head and tell them to just fucking get a life.

Here we have a troika of characters – Lee, Laika and Lucy – with the narrative viewpoint jumping between all three, often unannounced. The text is full of strikethroughs to indicate a ‘work in progress’ (often the full meaning is only apparent through what has been elided, which is a neat trick).

Mahomed sure has enough neat tricks up his sleeve to make Stuff a literary poster child for postmodernism. I frowned a bit when the narrator told me to fuck off, but some of the ‘stuff’ going on here is to disrupt the traditional relationship between reader and author. This is a bit tricky, as all the reader has to do is close the book, whereafter the author is literally fucked, despite his so-cool-that-it-burns savoir faire.

Mahomed, however, makes us fall quite madly in love with Lucy and her epic quest for cosmic interconnectedness (which leads to the mysterious drug of the title, which is like having the internet in your head, only better. I am unsure if that is a recommendation, actually.)

There are some telling references to living in the shadow of the fallen towers of 9/11, and some bitter commentary on the failure of youth culture, from hippies to grunge. There is also melancholy and sadness here, and some good old-fashioned unrequited lust.

It is a delicate task to maintain the balance between art and artifice, especially in such a highly fragmented and (de)constructed text such as this one. Mahomed, hoever, tiptoes on this razor wire with aplomb. While giving his readers, and the world, the finger.”

Thanks Gerhard! Glad you enjoyed it!