“superbly surreal adventure” – review of The Rhymer on the British Fantasy Society website

The Rhymer cover image
Palimpsest derived from photos of Leonardo’s work by Janaka Dharmasena/shutterstock.com
Original artwork by Alison Buck

On the British Fantasy Society website, Stewart Horn has written a review of Douglas Thompson’s satire on contemporary society and especially the art world, The Rhymer, an Heredyssey. He admits that a dry description of the book – the travels of the narrator throughout the region around Urbis, written in free verse – may make it seem quite a heavy book, but “it’s actually lots of fun” he says, adding that once adjusted to the “playful writing style” he found himself “chuckling … and enjoying the wordplay”. In summary, he advises readers to “think of the whole book as an experiment and an experience, and a thoroughly enjoyable one”.

You can read the whole of Stewart’s review here.

“startlingly original” – review of The Rhymer on The Future Fire

On The Future Fire website, Djibril al-Ayad has written a thoughtful review of Douglas Thompson’s comic-poetic satire The Rhymer, an Heredyssey. Djibril starts the review with the observation that The Rhymer is “one of the more surreal and absurdist tales Thompson has written” and goes on to add that it is “entirely written in a style somewhere between free-association, free-verse, and comic semi-rhyme, which sounds like it would be hard to read, but actually isn’t”. Confessing “to not particularly liking any of the characters, or indeed the narrative voice, but I did find it pleasant to read, challenging in the way that literature should be, and sometimes startlingly original.”

The Rhymer cover image
Palimpsest derived from photos of Leonardo’s work by Janaka Dharmasena/shutterstock.com
Original artwork by Alison Buck

Describing The Rhymer as a “deeply satirical and allegorical book”, Djibril admits that the style is “challenging to define—and occasionally distracting to read. Narrated in the first person by an obsessive rhymer, all narrative, description, action, dialogue and quoted speech or text are peppered with random, strained, sometimes inappropriate or malapropos rhyming, semi-rhyming or alliterating words.” When the narrator reports others’ speech in the same way it is “a hint to the reader that not all in the world of this novel is as it is being described”.

Summarising the story, Djibril identifies that the protagonist “one might even say the only real character, is the narrator, an aged, unwashed, amnesiac tramp with antisocial habits but a gift of the gab” who is attempting to “catch up with his world-famous but corrupt brother”, adding that the “fortunes of both turn on a dime, sometimes reversing or plunging to hell at the turn of a page—in time-honored story-telling tradition”.

Djibril admits that the review “has not really done justice to the turns and twists” of the novel, “partly because it would be unfair to give too much away, and partly because any attempt to summarize the plot in this medium would be inadequate”. In conclusion Djibril says that The Rhymer “is clearly a painstakingly and expertly crafted piece of writing, speaking to surrealist and absurdist aesthetics as well as the antiquarian’s love of subverted folklore and retro-science fiction. As often with Thompson’s novels, I came out of reading this book not entirely unambivalent, but certainly not unmoved.”

You can read Djibril’s full review here.

 

“A towering achievement” – review of The Rhymer by Terry Grimwood

The Rhymer cover imageAuthor Terry Grimwood has recently posted the following review of Douglas Thompson’s The Rhymer, an Heredyssey on Facebook:

Just read “The Rhymer” by Douglas Thompson. A towering achievement; fantastical, surreal, vivid, witty, original, slippery, and what sublime prose, or was it poetry? Someone described it as Shakespeare on speed – not a bad description. Recommended.

 

readers will be spellbound and bewitched – review of The Rhymer on Murder Mayhem & More

Palimpsest derived from photos of Leonardo’s work by Janaka Dharmasena/shutterstock.com Original artwork by Alison BuckOn Murder Mayhem & More, there is an entertaining review of Douglas Thompson’s latest novel The Rhymer, an Heredyssey by Rowena Hoseason (who is also an Amazon Hall of Fame top 50 reviewer). The title of her review says it all – “The Rhymer: outstanding. Original. Odd”

On the one hand she suggests that readers may be bamboozled, baffled and bewildered, but on the other hand she suggests they will also be spellbound, bewitched and, like her, “enjoying the sensation of being swirled along by the author’s imagery”. She goes on to say “So while The Rhymer contains myriad moments of well-crafted word-wrangling – the like of which most writers couldn’t hope to accomplish if they digested a thesaurus before breakfast – it’s not a pompous publication. There are plenty of laughs crammed in between its stylish covers.”

Her conclusion, before giving it a score of 8 out of 10, is as intriguing and complex as the book itself, and I hope she won’t mind me quoting it below. However you should really read the whole review here. Rowena’s conclusion:

“Even now, having left The Rhymer to settle a while after finishing it, I’m not entirely sure what I think about it. Admire it? Immensely. Enjoyed reading it? Enormously. Like it?

I’ll get back to you on that.”

Which, to be fair, is probably exactly what Douglas was aiming for 😉

 

“a true masterpiece of surrealism and imaginative storytelling” – review of The Rhymer on Risingshadow

On the Risingshadow website, Seregil of Rhiminee has written a review of Douglas Thompson’s latest novel The Rhymer, an Heredyssey. He describes it as “one of the most rewarding and challenging reading experiences of the year. It’s an exceptionally rich, beautifully written and complex novel for adult readers.” Seregil continues by saying that he has enjoyed Douglas’ novels in the past and this (Douglas’ eighth novel) is his “most daring and original novel to date”.

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

Seregil says that Douglas “has succeeded perfectly in creating a wonderfully strange, satirical and compelling story that pulls the reader into a world that’s a fantastical blend of fantasy and realism.” Going on to point out that it is “in equal parts speculative fiction, surreal fiction, visionary fiction, metaphysical fiction, satirical fiction and contemporary fiction”, he says that this might sound like a strange combination “but trust me when I say that it works well in this novel. Douglas Thompson is one of the few authors who are capable of writing this kind of beautiful and complex literary fiction.”

Describing the comic and poetic way Douglas “handles such delicate themes as love, loss, life, death and morality” he says that he “writes beautifully about these themes and avoids easy solutions.” Seregil is very complimentary about the complexity and depth of the novel, and appreciative of the way that the reader is expected to be able to follow a complex story that “never underestimates the reader’s intelligence.”

There’s much more in this review than I can excerpt here, he describes the satire as “stingingly humorous” and bordering “on being almost diabolically funny”. He says that “The lyrical and evocative prose is nuanced and beautiful”. He also says that the cover and interior illustrations designed by Alison Buck are “beautiful and fit the story perfectly”.

He concludes by saying the book is “a stunningly original and genre-bending novel that showcases the depth of Douglas Thompson’s imagination and his writing skills. It’s a true masterpiece of surrealism and imaginative storytelling that needs to be experienced personally to fully understand its nuanced and intricate beauty.”

You know, I think he liked it! You can (and should) read the full review here.

 

Book Trailer released for The Rhymer by Douglas Thompson

Palimpsest derived from photos of Leonardo’s work by Janaka Dharmasena/shutterstock.com Original artwork by Alison Buck
Palimpsest derived from photos of Leonardo’s work by Janaka Dharmasena / shutterstock.com
Original artwork by Alison Buck

You can now view the book trailer for The Rhymer by Douglas Thompson on our YouTube channel and our facebook page.

“Simply stupendous” – The Rhymer by Douglas Thompson now available

Satire on contemporary society, especially the art world, published in genre-defying lyrical novel from Scottish author

DARTFORD, KENT – 2 May 2014 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication today of Douglas Thompson’s, The Rhymer, an Heredyssey, which has already been praised by renowned writer and essayist Rhys Hughes as “simply stupendous”. Thompson, chairman of the Scottish Writers’ Centre in Glasgow, has been widely published in magazines, anthologies and online. The Rhymer, his eighth novel, is his second to be published by Elsewhen Press.

Palimpsest derived from photos of Leonardo’s work by Janaka Dharmasena/shutterstock.com Original artwork by Alison Buck
Palimpsest derived from photos of Leonardo’s work by Janaka Dharmasena/shutterstock.com
Original artwork by Alison Buck

The Rhymer, an Heredyssey defies classification in any one literary genre. A satire on contemporary society, particularly the art world, it is also a comic-poetic meditation on the nature of life, death and morality. Nadith, a wanderer who appears to be an amnesiac or possibly brain-damaged tramp, is on a journey through the satellite towns and suburbs of a city called Urbis. With spiteful intentions, he is seeking his brother Zenir, a successful artist, who is always two steps ahead of him. But as his brother’s fortunes wane, his own seem to be on the increase. When Nadith finally catches up with Zenir, what will they make of each other? Told entirely in the first person in a rhythmic stream of lyricism, Nadith’s story reads like Shakespeare on acid, leaving the reader to guess at the truth that lies behind his madness. Is Nadith a mental health patient or a conman? … Or, as he himself comes to believe, the reincarnation of the thirteenth century Scottish seer True Thomas The Rhymer, a man who never lied nor died but disappeared one day to return to the realm of the faeries who had first given him his clairvoyant gifts?

Rachel Kendall, writer and editor of Sein und Werden, was delighted to write an introduction to The Rhymer in which she says, “Obviously Thompson is a risk-taker, a dare-devil member of the literati, to propose such a feat as this. … He is a master craftsman, pulling out all the stops with exceptional timing (comic and otherwise).”

Rhys Hughes, Welsh writer and essayist said: “The oldest and best stories in the world were told rhythmically, lyrically, with the music of beauty, terror, loss and longing. It’s a form that has fallen somewhat into disuse in recent decades, and that’s a shame. But Douglas Thompson, a new writer of immense promise, is helping to find this wondrous method again, to ensure that the newest and best stories are also told rhythmically, lyrically, with the music of beauty, terror, loss and longing, and, in The Rhymer, to additionally fuse the form with modern and unique concepts, to create an effect that is richly complex but simply stupendous.”

The Rhymer, an Heredyssey is available from today on eBook platforms including Kindle, iTunes, Kobo.

About Douglas Thompson

Douglas Thompson’s short stories have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, most recently Albedo One, Ambit, Postscripts, and New Writing Scotland. He won the Grolsch/Herald Question of Style Award in 1989 and second prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2007. His first book, Ultrameta, published in 2009, was nominated for the Edge Hill Prize and shortlisted for the BFS Best Newcomer Award, and since then he has published four subsequent novels, Sylvow, Apoidea, Mechagnosis, Entanglement and has two more forthcoming, The Brahan Seer and Volwys.

 

Shakespeare on acid

Scottish author signs up with Speculative Fiction publisher for genre-defying poetic satire

DARTFORD, KENT – 3 February 2014 – Elsewhen Press,an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce that a deal has been inked with well-known Scottish author Douglas Thompson to publish his latest novel, The Rhymer, an Heredyssey. Thompson, who is also chairman of the Scottish Writers’ Centre in Glasgow, has been widely published in magazines, anthologies and online. This is his eighth novel and his second to be published by Elsewhen Press.

The Rhymer, an Heredyssey defies classification in any one literary genre. A satire on contemporary society, particularly the art world, it is also a comic-poetic meditation on the nature of life, death and morality. Nadith, a wanderer who appears to be an amnesiac or possibly brain-damaged tramp, is on a journey through the satellite towns and suburbs of a city called Urbis. With spiteful intentions, he is seeking his brother Zenir, a successful artist, who is always two steps ahead of him. But as his brother’s fortunes wane, his own seem to be on the increase. When Nadith finally catches up with Zenir, what will they make of each other? Told entirely in the first person in a rhythmic stream of lyricism, Nadith’s story reads like Shakespeare on acid, leaving the reader to guess at the truth that lies behind his madness. Is Nadith a mental health patient or a conman? … Or, as he himself comes to believe, the reincarnation of the thirteenth century Scottish seer True Thomas The Rhymer, a man who never lied nor died but disappeared one day to return to the realm of the faeries who had first given him his clairvoyant gifts?

Rachel Kendall, writer and editor of Sein und Werden, said of The Rhymer, “Obviously Thompson is a risk-taker, a dare-devil member of the literati, to propose such a feat as this. Should the measurements be out of sync, the angles a bit skewed or the trajectory off course, this could have been disastrous. But Thompson’s risks are calculated. He is a master craftsman, pulling out all the stops with exceptional timing (comic and otherwise).”

The Rhymer, an Heredyssey will be published this summer by Elsewhen Press in both digital and print editions.

About Douglas Thompson

Douglas ThompsonDouglas Thompson’s short stories have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, most recently Albedo One, Ambit, Postscripts, and New Writing Scotland. He won the Grolsch/Herald Question of Style Award in 1989 and second prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2007. His first book, Ultrameta, was published by Eibonvale Press in August 2009, nominated for the Edge Hill Prize, and shortlisted for the BFS Best Newcomer Award, and since then he has published four subsequent novels, Sylvow (Eibonvale, 2010), Apoidea (The Exaggerated Press, 2011), Mechagnosis (Dog Horn, 2012), Entanglement (Elsewhen Press, 2012) and has two forthcoming in 2014, Freadsal and Volwys, from Acair Publishing and Dog Horn respectively. The Rhymer is his eighth novel.