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of The Sinister Cabaret by John Herdman
"The narrative combines a series of journeys and encounters, an atmosphere compounded of nightmare, comedy and erudition, which is uniquely Herdman. At the same time, it has distant relationships to one's other reading, not just to Bunyan, Hogg and Dostoyevsky, long-term inspirations for our author. There is a quality of surreal experience, comic nastiness, metaphysical horror that links this book with the unconnected worlds of Banville's Birchwood, Iain Banks's The Bridge, and Crichton Smith's Murdo...
"Anything can happen to Donald Humbie in his world of flight and
personation...He must then delve into his earliest past to repossess and
understand it, and here the always gripping narrative becomes intense and
"This is a rich, complex and deeply rewarding book about delusion,
trickery and the dark forces of the past--themes which are concentrated in
the "Sinister Cabaret" of the title. The story builds to a
tremendous climax and has a startling surprise at the end, but it would be
a pity to spoil a reader's enjoyment by saying what it is. This book is a
major contribution to Scottish fiction and confirms Herdman's importance
as an outstanding and singular novelist of the absurd."
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