K. M. Ross: The Blinding Walk (2014)
Pretty exciting news in the post this morning: I opened up the mailbox to find a copy of my brother Ken's huge new novel, just published by Waywiser Press in Oxford (UK). It's a pretty damned handsome looking book, I reckon, and I was very pleased to see that it can readily be ordered from this country, too (I checked on Fishpond - no extra postage costs - but no doubt it's available through most of the other sites as well).
There's some interesting comments in the interview with Rebecca Robinson which you can find on the Waywiser site. She asks him, "Who are your major influences?" (a little like that scene in The Commitments where each musician auditioning for Jimmy Rabbitte's soul band has to state their affiliations before they've even allowed in the door):
In English language literature, the great Modernists, Joyce, Faulkner, Hemingway and Virginia Woolf; J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis; Joseph Conrad and Henry James; extraordinary individual talents such as Laurence Sterne, John Cowper Powys and Patrick White; Post-Modernists such as Kathy Acker and J. G. Ballard; and too many poets to name. In other languages: Old Icelandic Saga literature, Snorri Sturluson; the Russians; Proust and Georges Perec; and the modern South Americans: García Márquez and Vargas Llosa and Jorge Luis Borges and so many others. I also tend to draw ideas from film (Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman), graphic novels, and music of all eras.
You can find out more about the novel itself from the blurb and summary up on the site, but I thought I'd just mention here that Ken's previous novel, Falling Through the Architect, was published by the Writers Group here in New Zealand in 2005:
Those of you who are aficionados of brief magazine might also be interested to hear that Ken has published quite a lot of material in that journal over the years, including substantial extracts from both novels. Here's a list from the brief authors' page:
- The Demon Home / 24 (2002): 17-18
- from Falling Through the Architect / 25 (2002): 45-48
- Rambo; Dumped / 27 (2003): 77-82
- Sun’s Lid / 29 (2004): 53-56
- Tripping / 30 (2004): 92-95
- Out and Out / 31 (2004): 80-82
- Exile and the Wolf / 33 (2006): 41-43
- The Art of. .. / 34 (2007): 116-19
- Te Ika / 35 (2007): 83-87
- Review of Song of the Brakeman by Bill Direen / 35 (2007): 120-21
- The Clay Monster / 36 (2008): 83-86
- Venusian Transit / 37 (2009): 32-38
- Thrash / 39 (2010): 3-9
- The Headless: Lucy /40 (2010): 66-69
- The Headless: Coleop / 41 (2010): 10-13
- Ballad of the Kitchen Corner / 42 (2011): 58-62
- The Last Great Road Race / 46 (2012): 133-39
- from The Blinding Walk / 50 (2014): 75-93
Ken's doing a reading from The Blinding Walk at the Albion Beatnik Bookstore (great name for a bookshop!), 34 Walton Street, Oxford, on Friday 24th October at 7:30 p.m., so if any of you happen to be in the UK, you might like to check that out as well.
The book is dedicated to my sister Anne, and among the acknowledgements Bronwyn and I are both listed. This is a very special event for us, and I wish Ken great joy from this wonderful success. Now let's just sell a few copies! It is about a couple of feckless Kiwis on their OE, so you'd think that would ring a chord with a lot of readers, both local and expatriate.
Reviews & Comments:
- Helen Dumont, "Helen's Bookshelf: The Blinding Walk." Midwest Book Review: Oregon, USA (January 2015):
… An epic novel of skilfully crafted and memorable characters deftly woven into a complex and engaging story that holds the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end. Exceptionally well written, "The Blinding Walk" documents K. M. Ross as an author of considerable and evident talent as a master storyteller. Simply stated, "The Blinding Walk" is very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.
- Richard Taylor, "Dark Invading Geist: The Blinding Walk by K.M. Ross (Waywiser Press, 2015), 520 pp., $30." Landfall Review Online (March 2016):
I must emphasise the extraordinarily unusual and often ingenious use of language by Ross. It seems to me a unique book, a big philosophical-spiritual novel, using techniques and themes not often attempted by New Zealand writers. The protagonists are searching for artistic or transcendent meaning. Their drive is to create, to write, to compose music (and ‘fail’, as Yehune does, magnificently).
- William Direen, "Review of K. M. Ross. The Blinding Walk. Waywiser Press, Oxon and Baltimore. 2015." Percutio 10 (2016): 67-68.
It is a story that begins in Sydney and crosses three continents. For me, it began in 2006 (Percutio #0) when the author submitted an extract from The Blinding Walk in progress. It was not the last Ross (K. M.) extract Percutio would publish. This hefty volume sees the work's completion. He welds the episodes together skilfully, making a greater story of it, without completely driving away the Faulknerian brume of the extracts. If he and his characters have that kiwi knack of slipping into foreign cultures almost unnoticed, the author has the Scottish flair for plain speaking and never vaunting one's prowess. Even at his most seemingly experimental, his work never seems insurmountable. While it lacks the linguistic compression of a Samuels or the diversionary tactics of a Koed, Ross has a similar interest in overcoming linguistic playfulness, to engage.
Peppered through these 500 pages of 'walk' you'll hear a variety of accents. We rove from early Strine ('Thees eez a see-vilised country') to French ('Allay, allay') to 'failing with English' and '[falling back] on signs', to Russian, Italian and the inevitable Scottish. The last chapter, 'One, Two, Three' is like a setting off, and contains some of the best prose of the book. If this is a departure for K. M. Ross, I would like to see where it leads him: 'sun reflected, giving a wordless message to whatever it was in our heads that was open and unregarded; the me, which you can't expect to last very long in the lift of the wind and the corridors of school and the treading and treading down into mud-scuffed floors'.