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Review by
Mike Philbin
by Jeff Noon
ISBN: 0385602960


Lying in the bathtub as this book finally stumbles to a drunken finish, the words of this review are building up a migraine pressure in the skull. The water begins to glow a soft purple and the answer becomes a reflective shimmer of conclusion. The curved ceramic edge of the bathtub is a beckoning force upon which I know I can cleave open my skull. The best way to do it is to crack open the side of the skull at the optical cavity, right where the eye steals vital information from the world, crack the skull open there on the side of the bathtub, the lukewarm water filling with soft, cloudy red that clots like bad soup. Take the split skull there with a hand and peel back the skull pan until the black, oily words of this review spill out under their own pressure. Spill out and fill the bath. Filling the bathroom in black reason, crawling out of the bathroom, into the study where the computer trembles in the shadows, switching on the damned machine and pouring their judgement into the seething lines of pixels scrolling madly before my eyes.

FALLING OUT OF CARS is the sixth novel from Jeff Noon and it takes form of entries in a personal diary that belongs to the lead female character, Marlene Moore. We have tasted in Noon’s other works the Vaz smeared tickle of VURT’s data feathers, the nasal-cavity sting of Manchester’s POLLEN and the time travelling antics of his AUTOMATED ALICE but this piece is a road novel for the post-psychedelic generation gone wrong, unwoven, ripped at the seams.

Assaulted by the everyday set of five immiscible senses, Marlene Moore yearns for her stolen normality, the drug Lucidity her only saviour. We are talking about a global view of England where the mirrors no longer work, where the clocks have fallen into a coma, the telephones are nothing more than nauseous crosswinds.

Travelling the length and breadth of England, our heroine gathers around her a ragtag band of similar social dropouts and brain-warped has-beens, insane criminals and the criminally insane. There are horrors and delights along the way; the bar room where everyone is a silver-nitrate snapshot of flesh and bone, beings reborn in the developing solution; the Gallery of Delicate Things where books sacrifice their words in the act of being read; respectively. All magical and trippy as you like.

The diary form is a great device and this reviewer would have preferred a purer depiction that contained NO DIALOGUE; an anecdotal style that would have added further occlusion to the telling of the tale, an extra choux-pastry layer of disturbed thinking and muddled reason. Will these black scrawls of ink be able to save our heroine from her impending madness, her slow and relentless sensory unweaving?

"If you can read this, you are alive." the signposts scream along the way and you know, they are right.

It’s the freakiest, most twisted, truly disturbing, speed read horror ride for a long time and for this reason alone FALLING OUT OF CARS gets 4 psychologically-abused shriek girls out of 5.

This review copyright 2003 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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