RICOCHET is Tim Dry's first published novella and is my first taste of the author's work. Before embarking upon a read of the book, I did a little research into the man (also as a precursor to my interview with Tim, which can be found here); I discovered that Tim has pretty much done it all, often twice. He is the quintessential 'Renaissance Man', a Jack-Of-All-Trades, but master of many. He has acted in films, played in numerous music ventures and taken professional photographs of some very famous people. And now, following some short stories published in a few very well received anthologies and two autobiographies/memoirs of his time in the film industry, Tim has turned his hand to this longer work of fiction...
First off, it's worth noting that RICOCHET is not one overarching tale; rather, it is a series of mostly unconnected vignettes, some no longer than the average flash fiction piece, a few others coming in at short, short story length. Interspersed between each...scene...is what looks like either headline grabs from a mystical newspaper, or the chapter headings you often see in older works of fiction; yet these one or two sentence efforts have no bearing on the following tale. What strikes me most about the...collection (?), is that no two pieces are alike. The variety on display is astonishing, not least with the inclusion of the seemingly throwaway 'chapter headings'. Each piece feels as though it could have been worked up into a much longer story, while at the same time they work as they are. As to the stories themselves...
It's hard to know where to begin. I don't want to give a rundown of the contents because, I feel, part of the joy in reading is discovering what each piece contains. What I will say is, it's clear that Tim's experiences and love of films and the movie industry loom large. There are references to a plethora of films and actors, many familiar to me, some not so much. Some are subtle little references buried within the work, others are almost the whole tale itself. After film, music is the second clear love, with a couple of pieces that follow brief moments in the lives of John Lennon and Jim Morrison. Tonally, the stories range from the absurd to the sardonic to the deeply emotional and again, part of the fun is not knowing exactly where each piece is going...
Ah, fuck it...personal favourites include the man who buys pieces of prose like a drug user, getting high on syntax and grammar; Rupert Bear and Bill Badger's weary conversation in the aftermath of a violent battle for Nutwood (I'd LOVE to see this expanded); the two young brothers who discover something strange on the beach which has tragic consequences for one; the aforementioned separate flashes into the minds of Jim Morrison and John Lennon; and many, many more.
I've seen the novella and Tim's writing compared to the likes of William Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson for its seeming stream of consciousness. Now I haven't read either of those fellows, but my reference points were closer to Jeff Noon, Robert Rankin and even the dry, slightly melancholic humour of Douglas Adams. But Tim has a voice all his own and there's no denying the absolute vibrancy and expansiveness of the imagination on offer here. I, for one, would love to see what the man can do with a full length work and it's heartening to know that there are a few more 'RICOCHET' books planned. Great stuff and I look forward to the next instalment.
Click here for Paul's interview with Tim Dry