a novel, by Louis Armand
ISBN 978-0-9571213-0-0. Paperback.164pp Publication date: April 2012. Equus Press: London.
Shortlisted for the 2012 3:AM Novel of the Year Award. Longlisted for the 2012 Guardian Newspaper “Not the Booker” Prize.
“Breakfast at Midnight is a real delight, the kind of book that both embraces and breathes life into the standard tropes associated with the hard-boiled genre […], a twisted, brilliantly savage acid noir.” Benjamin Woodard, Numéro Cinq
“Plus noir que noir.” Goodreads
“Armand has written a perfect modern noir, presenting Kafka’s Prague as a bleak, monochrome singularity of darkness, despair and edgy, dry existentialist hardboil.” Richard Marshall, 3:AM
“While Jim Thompson […] provides inside views of the workings of intentional petty criminals, Armand gives us an inner view (note the difference) of someone not following such a path. The tool of his well crafted prose, necessary here to forge the events out of ambient background, is at odds with the ham-fisted telling of Thompson. Armand’s story worms its way out of an infested history beyond the control of the protagonist, wriggling unbidden like an ascaris from an anus. I would suggest that a more apt comparison might be Djuna Barnes.” James Chaffee, nthposition
“Armand has done to Prague what Genet achieves in Our Lady of the Flowers. Breakfast at Midnight is the most savage book I’ve read in years.” Jim Ruland, San Diego City Beat
“A pinball fever dream, sopping with sweat, booze, and sex, that bathes its confines in an unsettling atmosphere of grime.” Benjamin Woodard, Rain Taxi
“Breakfast at Midnight is a wonderfully executed nod to Kafka’s special brand of disorienting surrealism.” Michelle Bailat-Jones, Necessary Fiction
“A debauched, hallucinogenic noir… If Georges Simenon had smoked angel dust he might have come up with a style like this.” Prague Post
“Armand has achieved a dazzling level of literary expression.” Ladislav Nagy, Hospodářské noviny
“Mickey Spillane meets Georges Bataille on speed.” Goodreads
“When you finish reading this book you want to take a shower for a very long long time.” Reads by the Beach
“The sort of thing Iain Sinclair might write if he’d morphed with Chris Petit.” Stewart Home, author of Red London
“An impressionistic noir which teeters on the edge of being a thriller… Pitch-perfect.” Robert Kiely, London Student
“Recommended for readers who like their books creepy and surreal.” Goodreads
“A strange mixture of realism and almost schizophrenic fantasy, reloaded into a late 20th century context of border town bordellos, dysfunctional families, psychotic reactions and perverse sexuality.” Phil Shoenfelt, author of Junkie Love
Kafkaville. Blake is a pornographer who photographs corpses. Ten years ago, a young man becomes a fugitive when a redhead disappears on a bridge in the rain. Now, at the turn of the millennium, another redhead has turned up in the morgue, and the fugitive can’t get the dead girl’s image out of his head. For Blake, it’s all a game — a funhouse where denial is the currency, deceit is the grand prize, and all doors lead to one destination: murder. In the psychological noir-scape of Kafkaville, the rain never stops, and redemption is just another betrayal away…
Next thing we’re standing in the meat locker. Lights come on overhead. A row of sinks along a wall of scummed tiles that once were white. The stiff hands Blake a plain envelope then goes out. Without looking at it, Blake stuffs the envelope inside his coat. He’s a pretty picture, with his fox fur, his silver hair flaring out, stubble and red eyes and flying goggles around his neck – like some Luftwaffe pilot blitzed on pervitin.
In the middle of the room a gurney has been left out, draped with a green sheet. Blake takes out his camera and walks over to it. He waits until I’m next to him before he pulls the sheet away. It takes a few seconds to register what I’m seeing and then something inside me locks up. Bruised flesh leers pornographic – laughter, like a swarm of bees, swarming closer. I can hear the shutter of Blake’s camera clicking off one shot after another until the film runs out. Somehow that sound neutralises everything.
Behind my eyes images seethe and turn grey – my throat tightens around a scream that won’t come out – my head goes numb. Regen’s lying there, watching me. Red hair and jade eyes like an oriental fetish. A blur of stage-light on porcelain. Too naked. And then she’s gone again. Where she lay, there’s a corpse. Like a Janus figure. They might’ve been twins, but not quite. Two images reflecting one another through a gap in time.
Something happened once, ten years ago, in a place I want to forget. A memory, an image, a sickness. Old paranoias. I tell myself she’s dead, but it sounds fake, as fake as when I tell myself she’s alive, that she’ll come back, that everything can still be the way it used to be. I close my eyes and open them again slowly, forcing myself to see only what’s there. A slab of ruined meat. I can feel Blake watching me.
“It’s not her,” voice flat.
I stare at the corpse’s mouth while I repeat it – a black hole cropped out with teeth. “It’s not her.” Matted red hair. Eyes wide open, staring straight up – grey green, the corneas filmed over. Skin pale blue. But it isn’t Regen.
There are bruises across the dead girl’s breasts, her thighs. Crudely stitched autopsy incisions divide her abdomen. Crotch stubble. Abrasions on knees, shins, forearms. Supplicant. All of her fingernails are broken. Old rope burns wind around her wrists and neck like myrtle.
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