The Silence Room
Chain-smoking alcoholics, warring academics, gothic stalkers and aspiring writers are just some of the visitors that browse the mysterious library at the heart of Sean O’Brien’s fiction debut. Idlers and idolisers alike can be referenced, in body or in text, among the crepuscular alcoves and dim staircases of this seemingly unassuming building. The secret to a family curse, a dog-eared first edition of Stevens’ Harmonium, the gruesome fate of a feminist literary theorist – all are available to simply take down from the shelf, as are the catalogue of genres and subject areas that O’Brien himself effortlessly deploys: from gothic horror to English pastoral, Critical Theory to Cold War noir. Take a walk between these shelves. Crack the spine and the blow the dust off lives unlived because, so far, they’re unread. Become, if you dare, as trapped as them…
'The prose, winging between stateliness and the coarsest urban patois, is fluent and flawless...' - The Independent on Sunday, 30 Nov.
'Strange, creepy, often brilliant...' - The Financial Times, 20 Dec.
'Often in the last scene, often in the last line, O'Brien... withdraws his offer of a pint of mild in the local piss-palace and nails your bottom lip to the bar instead...' - M John Harrison in the TLS. The collection is as satisfying as it is stimulating... deeply unsettlingly... darkly thrilling.' - The Independent, 9 Jan.
'Sean O'Brien, like Graham Greene, creates his own instantly recognisable fictional landscape, where crime, mystery and disillusion lurk by the waters of the Tyne or Humber. His stories glint with black comedy and touches of the macabre and surreal. In O'Brien country you may hear the hoot of a train pulling out of the city, but you'll never be on it, because your place is here in the kingdom of backstreet pubs, tired, desirable girls and drowned men. Nothing is ever as it seems: it is much more frightening than that… First-class stories from one of our finest writers.' - Helen Dunmore
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- 27 Nov 2008