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This review is taken from PN Review 207, Volume 39 Number 1, September - October 2012.

What Happened at the River john muckle, My Pale Tulip (Shearsman) £12.95

The interrelationship between time and place, events which seem to fold into each other to form the development of character, has always been central to John Muckle's fiction. As the narrator puts it in 'The Cresta Run' (Galloping Dog Press, 1987), 'The time was made up into little episodes that latched together somehow and built up. He tried to concentrate but his mind raced ahead of itself, entangling him in the web of days and hours.' This latching together of the moments has, of course, a cinematic effect and that narrator from the early story sees 'unidentifiable frames from a film that had jumped out of its gate'.

John Muckle's compelling and fast-moving new novel takes us from the flatness of Clacton and the bleak Essex glimpse of the North Sea to the flatness of Holland, interspersed with historical contexts, as Lee, Will and the gamine Charley Price steal a car and head for Europe. Crossing Holland into Belgium, the miles that the three teenagers consume are punctuated with comedy and violence: brief friendships, a killing, the monotony of the ubiquitous chicken and chips. The journey owes something to Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde but also has
links with Terry Malick's dream-like film of crime and punishment, Badlands, in which the two youngsters Kit and Holly drift through South Dakota. John Muckle's world has a beautifully realised sense of that cinematic drift contained within the cocooned magic of this desperate bid for an escape from the ...


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