The Mirror Image of Sound, A Novel Written in Real Time gives us several levels to absorb in one book: the portrait of a failed marriage, martial arts action, workplace and domestic bullying, a philosophy and possible science of alternate worlds, or parellel lives, if you like; and there is even a romance.
It would become a classic of it’s kind but only for the fact that it is the one novel of its’s kind I believe exists, particularly as it was written in real time – of which more later. I feel fortunate to have read it, although, I must say, in the early chapters I was not so sure as this begins as car-crash-watching material. But there is more, so much more.
Black comedy of the darkest hues
We are at first spiralled down into a black comedy of a disintegrating personality. Because much of the daily detail is horribly familiar to the experiences you and I have once endured and yearned to escape – or perhaps still do – we can’t help following Dan, the hapless hero, through his ghastly days with the boss from hell, the friend from purgatory and the wife from nightmares.
Only Dan’s Uncle Frank seems to care about him. But when Frank suddenly dies, Dan finds himself being manipulated from beyond the grave. Exhausted by the demands on him, Dan wrestles with mounting debt, the scorn of his relatives, a mystery basement filled by sound equipment with peculiar instructions, and the curious case of Bugsy, the droopy-eyed cat, who simply vanishes.
If only Dan- and we- could just vanish and start again
If only Dan could vanish too – to a whole new life: new house, new friends, new job, new love affair. Have you not toyed with such a dream? I admit I have. (Not now, thank all the elder gods, but in the past). But if you do create a new life, even a new self, you might also unleash new and drastic consequences of your actions. After all, do you know the extreme possibilities of your own personality? Really, do you? I HAD to read on.
This science-fiction tale warps within inner space, the infinite space of Self. As you barrel through it, you will not only learn Dan’s chosen path but also be whisked across useful tips on how to create your own band, how to make Balkan moussaka, and how to totally destroy a front lawn. There is also a heartfelt homage to the music of The Hunters and Collectors. (You may recall Throw Your Loving Arms Around Me, from this band.)
Real Time Writing
We’ve seen a few movies try to portray say two hours of action within the two hour running time. But this novel began with a much greater challenge. It was uniquely written and presented, at first, in real time, that is each day of writing became a day in the life of the character.
As the author completed, for instance on a Monday, what the hero ficitionally endured on that Monday, he uploaded that chapter/day to a blog the same night. This must have fascinated the readers for some 8000 followed it in those (real) weeks).
But the author states that he often finished the chapter/day with no idea how he was going to extricate his characters the next day. And there was no going back. He couldn’t think, oh that angle is not working, I’ll go back and change what’s happened so far. No, he pressed on with what he had. Dan talks about this fascinating approach in an appendix to the book. (Personally I would wonder, children, whether to try this at home. The pressure on the author strikes me as enormous.)
Information about the author for those interested in martial arts
He is the current chief instructor of the Academy of Traditional Fighting Arts based at the Bayswater Martial Arts and Yoga Centre in Western Australia. There he teaches Okinawan karate, Chen Pan Ling style taiji (t’ai chi) and other gong fu (kung fu) as well as various traditional weapons systems.
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