Jeremy M. Davies’s ‘Rose Alley’
Just out (today!) from the wonderful Counterpath Press is Jeremy M. Davies’s debut novel, ‘Rose Alley,’ a book ostensibly about an obscure blue film made during the 1968 Paris riots. The book consists of a series of chapters each based on one of the film’s crew and cast, chaining the mostly by turns gristly and sex/violence addled lives and whereabouts in their intersection with the film’s strange creation and resulting aura.
Davies’s prose sings from paragraph to paragraph in that way of Pynchon and Hannah, in that each could stand alone in its music, and each contains multitudes, packed into syllables clearly fought for and refined for their finest parts.
For a more thorough review of the book, please check out my post in this month’s edition of Bookslut, including my claim: “Here is a debut novel full not only of sex and violence, alternate histories, layerings of will, but also in sentences designed to entertain as much as dazzle, making Jeremy M. Davies a great new brain trust for the page.”
A blurb from Harry Mathews:
“Jeremy M. Davies has written a literally overwhelming book: the historical Rose Alley was the scene of Dryden’s brutal ambush by hirelings of the Earl of Rochester, and each chapter of Davies’s book appropriately ambushes the reader, not with brutality but with wit, irresistable ingenuity, and a stupefying narrative abundance that propels us from one sizzling and often hilarious surprise to the next. You have no excuse for not reading this book.”
But beyond all that, it is the writing, Davies’s amazingly intricate renditions of violence in full and close, almost romantic fervor.
Here’s another excerpt:
He laid her on the ground. At this slightest of impacts, her teeth came loose, rolling into the dust like dice from a cup. They were rounded every one and red as mahogany. He had a moment’s uncertainty then, seeing their resemblance to crude Georgian dentures, whittled in someone’s spare time and too casually gummed together. He crouched down by her and looked again. Limbs like cracked broomsticks, hair like straw, the fingers died and tight as belt-leather and toes hard as ten thimbles; her skin all over like airmail paper: a macabre little manikin. Was the body a fake? Part of a prank? Or had the sun just turned her into sculpture–as it does, in the end, with everything? Raoul’s confidence in the body’s authenticity–and the concurrent fright in his stomach at the dreadfulness it signified–waved like the bubble in a spirit level and traveled the length of his scale, up and down, from unqualified faith to livid dismissal and back again so rapidly and so many times that he was exhausted by it. He had to resist the urge to bury the artifact there and then just to have done with the wondering.
You can read the second chapter from the book, and place your order, at the Counterpath site for ‘Rose Alley.’