Have something a little different for this blog tour, not my usual genre. That is the joy of taking part though, you learn about new books, find something you didn't know you liked and add more books to your TBR list.
When μ returns home to find a sinister screenplay has arrived from Brazil it propels him on a quest to track down a character he believes to be called Ddunsel. As μ’s search progresses it slowly becomes entangled with two parallel tales – the stories of DOWN, a troubled publisher, and David Bohm, a real-life quantum theoretician in post-war São Paulo.
Just how far is it from London to Gotham City? Or from Paul Auster to Pierre Menard for that matter? Some people may think these sorts of questions are idle and ultimately meaningless but this book is not for them. The Wave combines multiple narratives to blend metafiction, historical fiction and screenplay as each of the characters struggles to understand what is reality and what is fiction.
It was suffocating, like living at the bottom of a giant sweating sea, a grey iron mass that pushed down on your head inexorably. The clouds, the sky, the faintest current were all aspects of this giant ocean that encased the earth. Not even a whisper of fresh air existed down there. Any breath of wind coming from the Atlantic was transformed, turned into a stifling wet wave of humidity.
The sun too was different – strangled, fierce. It was the engine that continued to drive the infernal hydrosphere. Sweaty drops of moisture dripped out of the air but rarely did it rain. Most of the time the moisture simply hung there, like a leaden curtain, dampening everyone’s movement and thought.
Bohm had been there only three weeks but already he was slipping away from his old life in the States. It was a disgrace. He had no desire to remember the details that led to him having to leave. A bad taste still lingered in his mouth from those last weeks before he got on the flight.
Those first few days after he crossed the equator he had hoped there would be a new beginning, new leads in his work, some new approach to help him understand the role of the μ variable. Colleagues that were open frank, stimulating – something different from all those destructive relationships in Princeton, a chance to act on all the things that really made a difference. Now here he was and all he wished for was a cool drink.
The House Committee on Un-American Activities had expelled him for ‘Acts in contravention of the interests of the state’ which, according to his legal counsel, meant that he was on a par with some of the worst terrorists and war criminals. He hadn’t attended a communist event in years. It was hysteria, the whole world was going mad.
The prosecutor had said that in light of his academic achievements and the character testimonials they had received there was a willingness to look favourably on his political affiliations but that, ultimately, there was little that could be done. He might have been able to stay in some other role if the university authorities at Princeton had not buckled to pressure and turned their backs on him.
Well, he didn’t need them anyway. His research had been leading further and further away from the applied sciences in any case. The thought of discovering anything important, anything truthful, inside of some particle collider or by rubbing atoms together seemed ludicrous now. No, for his research he needed only a piece of paper and a pen and the chance to concentrate.
If only he could concentrate. Could it be that hard to have a proper rest, to find somewhere where this horrible, clammy heat didn’t invade? The food too was making him sick, he was sure. Before he left, a colleague, Jim Briant, had told him at great length how great the food was in Brazil.
‘You’re going to love the Salgadinhos, man,’ he had said. ‘Yeah, great fuckin’ food, and the steaks?’ Here he had stretched his hands out wide before patting his belly, ‘Boy, superb steaks, man.’
Jim Briant was an idiot. He had known that at the time, but somehow he had thought he could trust his opinion on food because of the size of the imbecile’s stomach. Well, he had been suckered on that point as well.
He was sure some of the food might taste fine if it were possible to think about putting it in your mouth, but the hygiene in this country was virtually non-existent. The mere look of most dishes was enough to get a dose of embrillis bacterium. He had tried to brave things, but he had only been there three days when he caught a particularly nasty virus.
After that he had tried eating only in the more expensive restaurants, thinking that their kitchens must surely operate at a higher level of cleanliness, but the food there was no better. Eventually he had resorted to living on ‘Quesitos’, a brand of cheese crackers that were somewhere between flavourless and disgusting. At least they were shrink wrapped.
Lochlan Bloom is the author of the The Wave as well as the short novellas Trade and The Open Cage. The BBC Writersroom describes his writing as ‘unsettling and compelling… vivid, taut and grimly effective work’. He has written for BBC Radio, Litro Magazine, Porcelain Film, IronBox Films, EIU, H+ Magazine and Calliope, the official publication of the Writers’ Special Interest Group (SIG) of American Mensa, amongst others. Lochlan lives in London and does not have a cat or a dog.