Any number of things might have happened. Johnny, is sort of based on Gary Glitter - but I don't think it is actually him, just image wise. Any number of things might have happened. Every action that takes place within can only be seen through the prism of the suicide that takes place on the second page. I was going to give this 3 stars as my rating but in all honesty, I'm puzzled by this read! Except nothing goes according to plan for Pearson. Ron Hubbard on the tap in the Valley, Rudolf Hess on the lam in the Scottish highlands, Jim Jones on the Kool-Aid in Guyana, the eighties Soho tranny socialite Vicky de Lambray on the mak Why this wasn't longlisted for the Booker Prize perhaps tells you all you need to know about the Booker longlist. Result: an occasionally brilliant novel.
He is the hub of the novel, around which the three other main characters turn. Each story feels as though it is a photo, snapped in the middle of action and each jabbed at my conciousness, made me feel, made me think. British intelligence plans campaigns to influence Rudolph Hess. The House of Rumour brings these strands together, with a plot taking in most of the major conspiracies of past 60 years, from Rudolph Hess through to Aleister Crowley, as well as Jonestown and the Black Panthers. The individual strands hold up on their own as mini character studies, but written with a clarity and flow that are quite intoxicating.
In this novel, as elsewhere in his work, a very promising idea is sabotaged by his inability to a create believable characters his women are simply awful, as are his heterosexuals , and b to integrate his research without the kind of clunking explanatory dialogue that so marred 'Johnny Come Home'. It started off really well and then kind of meandered to an end of sorts. Hess' alleged reason for this was a bid to make a separate peace with Britain, allowing Nazi Germany to concentrate all its efforts on the invasion of the Soviet Union. In 2005 Arnott was ranked one of Britain's 100 most influential gay and lesbian people. Pearson isn't the only one who's interested though--glam rock star Johnny Chrome is on the brink of breakdown and is convinced that Sweet Thing is the only one who can bring him back. This, although an ultimately unhelpful exercise, is nonetheless an interesting experience. But her public-school boyfriend is going all mockney and writing the script of his 'classic British gangster movie'.
Pearson isn't the only one who's interested though - glam rock star Johnny Chrome is on the brink of a breakdown and is convinced that Sweet Thing is the only one who can bring him back. I had a feeling that the author was playing with the reader, insinuating that there will be some great revelation that will bring the entire novel into focus, but that is another piece of disinformation, really. On parallel worlds or in counterfactual realities, at forking paths and at jonbar points, the world is a speculative fiction. The main problem was that I never actually cared what was happening. And a conspiracy is born that will ripple through the decades to come. Each character is looking for truth in their own way - but what is true in this twisting hall of mirrors story? The character viewpoint moves from Ian Fleming to Rudolph Hess, to others caught up in movements or trying to adjust to life post-war or post revolution. Really cool idea- poorly carried out.
When the Doctor discovers that Dee and his assistant have come across a great disturbance in the cosmos, in the constellation of Cassiopeia, he realizes that they are all in terrible danger. The artistry of it is stunning; it reminds me of those pictures that were so popular when I was a student, you peer endlessly into what seems to be a bank of impenetrable colour and then, suddenly, you see the image, everything snaps into sharp focus, everything becomes clear. As with that novel, and He Kills Coppers, the author takes a real story and turns the events into fiction. Dotted among these chapters are the stories of some colourful individuals from all walks of life - spies, transvestites, musicians, writers, artists, revolutionaries, magicians and charlatans. When I was writing about the 1990s in my last book Truecrime , I found it harder to think what I felt about the decade because I was already thinking consciously about decades. Pearson isn't the only one who's interested though--glam rock star Johnny Chrome is on the brink of breakdown and is convinced that Sweet Thing is the only one who can bring him back. Because stories and ideas and beliefs are passed on or reinterpreted, if not they will just fade into silence.
The setting for the book is the early 70s in England and he combines two different subcultures - glam rock and the Angry Brigade, a Weather Underground-like group of bombers. Any number of things might have happened. Sweet Thing is already busy being at the beckoned call of an aging rock star, Johnny Chrome, to be bothered with Pearson. Or is it the 'difficult fourth novel', a rusty and holed bucket dropped into an ever-drier imaginative well? But back then it wasn't just about gayness or straightness or campness or butchness. Don't be too charitable towards the book though. There were sections that were riveting and others that were dry.
Elsewhere, the book gets a little bogged down with a multiplicity of voices, but there are plenty of interesting inroads into the shadow history of the century. Love it or not, this is not a story to miss in your reading library. The writing is quite spectacular, with deft switches of style between chapters, periods and locations brought off in a way that is more subtle and convincing than in, for example, the for-me-overpraised Cloud Atlas. If you read anything by Jake Arnott, make it The Long Firm. Arnott chronicles this age far too well for his years, for something he witnessed only through the eyes of a school boy. Any number of things might have happened. London, 1972: O'Connell, a charismatic anarchist, dies of an overdose, leaving his artist boyfriend, Pearson, and fellow activist Nina in shock.
I wish the whole book could have been written in the same way. It all comes around in the end, full circle, connecting - not neatly or nicely, but very satisfyingly. However, I felt that there were some issues which prevented The House of Rumour from being the next big thing in alternate history. He came out as bisexual in his twenties. They were terribly misguided in a way - they ended up achieving the opposite of what they were fighting for. Is this a first novel that lived in Arnott's bottom drawer until his rather better effort, The Long Firm, had won him a measure of fame and literary respect, and allowed him to clear his clutter? A Lazy and stupid mistake of the kind dullards like Dan Brown would make. As in his best-selling Long Firm trilogy, it is Arnott's evocation of period that constitutes his strongest suit as a writer.