Bohemian Books / June 2000
It’s come to my attention that some of you didn’t take my advice and read Hobson & Company… Of course, not everyone had a peek at my top ten list, so maybe you thought I was just being nice. Well, I’m not thatnice. Here comes a chance to redeem yourselves; the second in the Greyminster Chronicles is out, and nothing has knocked it out of my top three for 2000 list so far.
If you just missed out on Hobson & Co., not to worry. Each of the installments can be read as a stand-alone novel, but if you read one, you’re going to want them all.
Patternoster Row takes us to another part of that grim neighbourhood of Greyminster. An entirely different situation has cropped up this time, but the carnage and destruction are well intact. Where Hughes’ imagination goes, trouble follows. How he manages to make a catastrophe so hilarious is beyond me, but I am working on the technique. The world could use more misanthropes with this much talent.
Cecilia Doyle’s life is a model of misery, except for the fantasies that run through her head. She hungers for more from life — a better body, a decent job, and some genuine excitement for a change. That’s a good thing, because excitement such as she’s never imagined is about to touch down in her neighbourhood. Excitement, she’s about to find, can be far more than she bargained for. In this case, it could be the death of her.
The new man in her life is bringing a shipload of trouble, and even he can’t contain it.
Once again, Hughes keen insight into people shows in the eccentric cast of Patternoster Row. Old biddies, insomniac cops, massive couch potatoes, and a mother like a visit from Old Pitch — they are moving around in the tiny circles of their lives, wreaking havoc and making everyone they meet just a little more depressed. Gawky young women to sleazy old shopkeepers, he’s got them down pat, never missing a nuance of personality.
Hughes is good. He’s got the same hold over readers that Tom Sharpe, Kingsley Amis, and the late Bob Shaw created so effortlessly. Okay, so he’s damn good — one of those authors who hooks you with intelligent humour and run-amok storylines. His fiction is irresistible. So why fight it?
If it already sounds like Hughes has more talent than anyone deserves, wait until you see his artwork. All illustrations are done by the author, who also writes marvelous cartoons that not everyone will “get,” but the right people will.
A Brian Hughes novel is chaos barely under control, hilarity with just a hint of taste of indecorum. No one out there is writing anything like he turns out. Name one author who is producing science fiction with humour and creating literature: If you named anyone else but Hughes, you guessed wrong.
So, read it already! You won’t be able to stop there.