Friday, October 15, 2004

Books: James Nowlan

The Book: "Security," a short novel.

Far exceeding even Stephen Moran and J.T. Leroy in the level of disgust and melancholy in his prose is James Nowlan. The misadventures of a security guard in Paris, Nowlan's often hallucinagenic story takes us into the chaotic midst of a mad urban wilderness, his security guard character a lost, degraded misfit. Occasional misspellings fit the book's aesthetic:

"Embarrassed for the man he accepted his invitation and sat down in a cheap chrome and naugahide chair to watch the videotape. It started with a man in a run down neighborhood in America that looked abit like where Tom had lived. He was rolling slowly through the streets in an armoured vehicule tearing buildings apart with powerful bursts of his motordriven gatling gun. He added a commentary, 'this was a condemned neighborhood that the city wanted torn down we helped them out and were able to make this video at the same time.' The next sequence showed him rolling across an african savanha with a man in an elaborate uniform in the vehicule with him. 'He was one of my best clients, unfortunately some goddam marxist rebels hacked his head off.' The next shot showed the smiling face of the president as his body shakes with the recoil of the arm. Panning across the camera shows his targets: giraffes, lions, zebras and gazelles being blown to pieces by the withering fire. Then it cut to a shot of him and the chief of state standing in front of a giant fire in which the meat from the animals was being roasted while they drank pint bottles of beer. It finally froze on the smiling face of a soldier cutting up some giraffe meat with a bloody machete, thinking about the upcoming revolution perhaps."

Sex in filthy public toilets; decadent parties in Gothic mansions; arm sales at airports; sterile concrete banks in vast suburban wastelands; bloody fights in grotesque bars-- Nowlan crams into his narrative a disorienting strange jumble of the shocking nauseating world we stumble through known as life.

(More info maybe at but this book is very underground.)


Adam Hardin said...

Helen Schulman, her novel P.S. was recently released as a movie that I will not see, but I did some research and it turns out the Novel is about an Admissions Counselor in a Graduate Art Program who Falls in love with a Young Art Student.

Helen Schulman in her own life was an Admissions Counselor reading applications at the Columbia MFA program at one point in her life. She has an MFA as well.

It just goes to show you how fucked you are when you have never lived enough of a real life to be a writer.
You have no real experience except experiences in Academia.

Reminds me of Vendela Vida and her book, " And Now You Can Go," where a woman is assaulted and her captor lets her book when she recites a poem.

Anonymous said...

Sounds great !
Where can i get this book ?

tom said...

Got a second hand issue of Security Guard here in Prague and gobbled the book up in an afternoon. A pitty there is not more out.

Does anybody now if the author has lived in the Czech Republic. The neighbourhood Posledni in the book has a hidden czech meaning "the last"or the "least".

tom from prague