Review: Eyepennies / Author: Mike O'Driscoll / Publisher: TTA / Release Date: Out Now
TTA, the people behind genre magazines Interzone and Black Static, are now going into the book business with what promises to be an interesting series of novellas. The first of these, Mike O'Driscoll's Eyepennies, is a fictionalized account of the troubled life and premature death of Mark Linkous, the mumbling, downbeat lead singer of lo-fi band Sparklehorse, who committed suicide in 2010. It's one to file under Beautiful But Difficult.
Taking its cue from Linkous' elliptical songs, it eschews anything resembling a conventional A-to-B narrative, instead offering up, in apparently random order, a succession of short, fragmentary chapters which read like jumbled postcards from the edge or erratic snapshots of milestones upon the tunesmith's path of self-destruction. How does horror and/or fantasy come into it? Well (as least as far as we can judge, since the ins-and-outs are elusive), Linkous grows to believe that he is dead already, as the result of a previous drug-fuelled misadventure, and his present existence is nothing but a ghostly illusion – a suspicion that seems to be confirmed by several weird and inexplicable happenings.
Dark and slippery, this isn't an easy book to wrap your head around. But O'Driscoll sweeps you along with dazzling turns of phrase, evocative Americana (he's surely the best writer about the U.S. to come out of Swansea) and a seer-like ability to depict a mental state of euphoric despair. Not for everyone, but Sparklehorse fans should love it.