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Welcome to the comic and bizarre world of Mr. Taffy Atom, private detective extraordinaire, and his voracious sidekick, Jed Helms, who just happens to be a fish. Set in the same nightmarishly noir underworld of Beerlight seen in other works by Steve Aylett, Atom follows the hero as he trails a motley pack of criminals chasing down some missing gray matter - not their own, but the pilfered brain of Time magazine's Man of the Century, the Big E. Atom is a laconic, world-weary private eye in the Bogart tradition in a world where the cops are the villains and the criminals, if not heroes, are no worse than the forces trying to maintain what passes for law and order in Beerlight. "Aylett has a cold, accurate eye, a mocking wit, and a black, playful angle of attack which has learned something from cyberpunk but has the smack of idiosyncrasy." -- Michael Moorcock
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Take the guys and dolls of Damon Runyon's gangster fairy tales, the hyperbolic criminals of Chester A. Gould's comic strip "Dick Tracy," the unflappable antiheroes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and the wise- guy paranoiacs from the fiction of William Burroughs, run them through a genetic shredder, then glue the remains back together in the dark using alien DNA, and the result might resemble Steve Aylett's dizzying, dazzling, and ultimately wearying novel, Atom.
The author of five previous novels--including Slaughtermatic, a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award--Aylett writes like Robin Williams does improv: at an ever-accelerating rate. Atom is set in the noirish city of Beerlight, where the brain of Franz Kafka is sought by a cast of seedy characters with monikers like Nada Neck, Flea Lonza, and Eddie Thermidor. Private dick Taffy Atom matches wits and weapons with this misbegotten crew in a plot as convoluted as it is beside the point. What matters here is language. Aylett's hyperkinetic, magpie style sparkles with baubles of pop culture and jokes so inside they may never before have seen the light of day. Following in the slipstream of his chaotic, often inspired inventiveness makes for an exhilarating read. But alas, an exhausting one. In the end, Aylett's bravura yet one-note performance lacks a nucleus strong enough to hold readers in their orbits. --Emerson CooperAbout the Author:
Steve Aylett is 36. He lives and works in Brighton. If he were any more English he'd be dead.
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