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work

by Richard Makin

ISBN 978-1-9996964-4-3. Paperback. Publication date: November 2021. Equus Press: London & Prague. Price: € 12.00 (not including postage)

“When encountering the works of Richard Makin, an urgent question is raised: How does one actually read this? One of the first sentences in the book is: ‘Word order is an allusive presence, a residue.’ In order to understand this linguistic “residue,” one has to alter one’s perceptions about how narrative operates. Work, like Makin’s other works, is allusive, elusive, solipsistic, and playful. Offering no anchor to the reader – a linear story, identifiable characters – instead, we are set adrift on a sea of words. Images and passages fade in and out, possible genres – science fiction, detective noir, autobiographical confessional – cling to the mind and then disappear just as easily. ‘I have inherited the magnetized corpse of an abandoned empire,’ he says. This can be read as a passage from a speculative fiction novel or is Makin’s own assessment of the state of contemporary fiction. Work is fiction as a polysemic vehicle and mise en abyme.” The Driftless Area Review

“One of the remarkable things about Richard Makin’s writings, and especially his latest book, Work, is how he manages to fashion a narrative from a thousand disparate fragments. Everyday situations warped by dream logic become almost encyclopaedic in scope. What he does with these situations is never humdrum. He invests his materials with a dramatic edge, foreshadowing dread, and provides a smattering of epiphanies, meanwhile indulging in numerous handbrake turns that disrupt the linear flow of events and suggest new narrative possibilities. Nothing in Work is quite what it seems at first glance — nor even a second. Makin has the sensibility of a poet, and as with the best poetry, the kind that requires and rewards close attention, not everything makes perfect sense — nor does it need to. Gloriously imperfect? That’s as good a description as any, one that in no way diminishes Work, which is, above all, a major aesthetic achievement.” —Brian Marley

“An unclassifiable encyclopedic novel whose leaves form part of a vast corpus that splices metafictional speculation with rebels and revolution, theory and arcana, witches and inquisition, science and magic, misfits and marine invertebrates with five or more radiating arms, set somewhere in a future dystopia which torques into a strangely familiar present where asymptomatics are shot on sight. There are echoes of Acker, of Beckett, of late Ballard, and of Lautréamont’s fin-de-siècle masterpiece Maldoror, but the sumptuous polyphonic mesh of language, register and fractured schizoid idiolects is uniquely Makin’s own. If you like your fiction to be totally wired, this is for you.” —Philip Terry

Work is the alter-ego of Richard Makin: work as in hard toil in the engine room, work as in crafted memory, work as in magic spells, invocations. When I first engaged in this work, a most excellent standard of work, work of an obsessive nature, I was taken on a journey with no specific destination; I had to work within the interludes. As his journal states, this is thirsty work, ritual work, a mobile work of fire. I am amazed at his ability to remember, and list. Clearly familiar with the more radical techniques; the technique used is pneumatic parataxis. His job is to monitor the ebb tide. Work: there is no match.”—James Davies

“The sentences pull you in with black-hole gravitas. Subversion lurks in every subordinate clause. Sentences split into parallel realities on the hinge of a comma. Each paragraph is a danger zone, a satanic surprise party in which we are terrorised by wonders. So many asides contain the DNA for an entire novel. […] This is phenomenology in the raw, in the micro-moment of scribing, a stripperama of flesh, blood and nerve as the anti-narrative moves outside the spirals of time. Dialogues flare and fade, presences of the Other loom in the sub-texts, personae zoom in and out, fighting for their instant in the spotlight of consciousness. The locales are frequently post-industrial, where the prose tracks smoothly across inscapes of decay, torture and post-human mutation. Neuroscience becomes the new Pataphysics. Entities and objects nevertheless recur: ‘ants’; ‘witches’; ‘mother’s harpsichord’; ‘the all-night laundromat’; ‘the savant’; ‘Neptune’; ‘battery acid’ — and above all, the leitmotif of ‘origin’ — as if searching for the ultimate wormhole from which this Bosch-like cosmos emerges. Work is a magnum opus, a Maldoror of the digital age. It is a book of eternal returns.” —Paul A. Green

“Richard Makin’s ongoing oeuvre is already approaching Proustian proportions. But here you will not find the languid cadences of the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, nor the exhaustive exploration of a single set of memories. We are a century on, living in a multi-modal, multi-dimensional world. The narrative voice that seems to surface in each sentence of Makin’s soon expires and is overlaid with another, and then another. And so it goes, beautifully modulated, often amusing; it’s all that there is. It’s a miracle. It’s as if there was the prospect of closure. As if there was continuity.” —Ken Edwards

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“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?…we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us” // Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollack, 27 January 1904
December 2021
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