Reviews of The Imagination Thief
The Imagination Thief by Rohan Quine
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Awesome Indies—Seal of Approval for The Imagination Thief.
For some of the main talking points that stem from The Imagination Thief, see here.
“Rohan Quine is one of the most brilliant and original writers around. His The Imagination Thief blended written and spoken word and visuals to create one of the most haunting and complex explorations of the dark corners of the soul you will ever read. Never one to do something simple when something more complex can build up the layers more beautifully […] suffice to say he is the consummate master of sentencecraft. His prose is a warming sea on which to float and luxuriate. But that is only half of the picture. He has a remarkable insight into the human psyche, and he demonstrates it by lacquering layer on layer of subtle observation and nuance. Allow yourself to slip from the slick surface of the water and you will soon find yourself tangled in a very deep and disturbing world, but the dangers that lurk beneath the surface are so enticing, so intoxicating it is impossible to resist their call.”
“The Imagination Thief is one of those books that has originality stamped across it with a pair of size 12 DMs. An incredibly dark yet full and balanced with shafts of light picaresque through the recesses of the human psyche, it is an uncomfortable, troubling immersive experience that mixes text, audio and video taking us into places we would rather not go. It could be described as a cubist novel, taking each aspect of the torn mind and laying them out on separate planes through the different media.”
“Perhaps the most exciting form of expressive self-publishing is when form and content collide in a perfect storm. Two wonderful examples of this are Rohan Quine’s The Imagination Thief, an ebook that links to video and audio material, not only immersing us in the surreal trance-like world of the novel but fully utilising Rohan’s skills as a professional actor […]”
JJ Marsh, novelist, on The Imagination Thief:
“Another difficult to classify book, but that’s precisely why it works so well. Part literary fiction, part fantasy, it is a surreal experience which makes the most of its equally offbeat location. With a cast of unforgettable characters and a central premise both intriguing and epic […].
[…] In Asbury Park, New Jersey, an abandoned holiday resort, preparations for the strangest and biggest show on earth continue. They encounter an eclectic bunch of characters; lovers, enemies, slaves and masters, all of whom provide Jaymi with a wealth of material. But information is power, and more than one person wants access.
The swooping eloquence of this book had me hypnotised. Quine leaps into pools of imagery, delighting in what words can do. The fact that the reader is lured into joining this kaleidoscopic, elemental ballet marks this out as something fresh and unusual. In addition to the language, two other elements make their mark. The seaside ghost town with echoes of the past and the absorbing, varied and rich cast of characters.
It’s a story with a concept, place and people you’ll find hard to leave.”
Debbie Young, author and Amazon UK 1,000 Reviewer, on The Imagination Thief:
“An intriguing book that addresses many big issues (love, sex, death, power, the nature and reliability of human memory, history, culture, human potential, the constraints of 21st century society, and more) […].
The contrasting settings of busy, businesslike Manhattan and the ghost town of a nearby decaying seaside resort are only the backdrop to huge flights of fancy into the minds of the characters, explored by the newly psychic hero Jaymi. As he delves into their memories, sights and sounds from all over the world—real and imagined—spill forth, from war-torn Vietnam to idyllic classical gardens, beneath the oceans and into outer space. All of these experiences are described with a larger-than-life intensity that put me strangely in mind of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan—and occasionally its drug-induced origins too!
It’s not an easy or comfortable read, particularly when closely examining mental and physical cruelty and violence between some of the characters. I read with a constant sense of foreboding. However even the most shocking passages are underpinned by the compassion, pity and tenderness of the narrator for all but the most brutal characters. There’s also some very welcome, very British understated humour to offset some of the horror. The brevity of the ‘mini-chapters’ was well-judged—I felt I needed to come up for air after some of the short episodes, and to assimilate the latest action before moving on.
The immediacy of the story is more keenly felt because it is written in the present tense—always more demanding on the reader, I find, and even more so in this case because although most is in the first person, there are also many second-person narratives, where Jaymi is reading the minds of other characters and addressing them: ‘You move closer…’ That the author is able to keep the reader not only engaged but tantalised by this difficult mode of storytelling indicates the power of his prose.
Though it’s very much a modern book, with the constraints of modern life as one of its themes, there are touches of the classic about it too, reminding this reader of Johnson’s Rasselas […].
As I turned the pages, I found myself puzzling how on earth this intense tale would end. Without spoiling the plot, I can say I found the conclusion surprising, redemptive and satisfying.
[…] So, here we have not so much an imagination thief, but, to the reader, an imagination expander. Great stuff—thank you, Rohan Quine.”
—“Debbie Young’s Writing Life”
“Novelist Rohan Quine not only has several books out. He also has a career in alternative modeling and film to look back on. Naturally, he has gone on to make a series of silent short films to go with an audio track of the author reading from his work. It’s flooded with city lights, drugs and darkness. One foot in the New York Nineties, and one foot in today’s London, it’s both hypnotic and gut-churning.”
—Polly Trope, novelist and Literary Editor of indieBerlin, on The Imagination Thief, “Books and Films”, indieBerlin
“To love some of these characters would be to doom yourself, you are simply asked to observe them; to see them as deeply, as thoroughly as you see yourself, such is the all-encompassing clarity of Quine’s descriptive abilities. These characters are not mere sketches; they are Rembrandts […].
[…] Rather than a violation, Jaymi’s reading of this motley crew of players is performed with a tenderness and an unending respect for the spectacle of another’s soul in its entirety laid bare to us. There is magic in the twisted minds as well as in the sublime.
[…] the decadently rich language of this novel makes it pure chocolate, wine and sex—you will need a cigarette as you turn the last page. This book reads like a musical. The words are liquid and melodic: always entrancing and encaptivating and rising to chorus-line lung-busting crescendos every time Jaymi unleashes his powers and the imaginations of his superbly diverse cast shine out of the page in an explosion of Sound and Vision. Given that he accomplishes this purveyance of the innermost soul with black words on a white page, what is indeed impressive is the sheer level of colour, smell, texture and heat that can be felt during these moments when we are invited to couple our minds with theirs.
As I have stated, this is a piece where the English language is flexed and stretched until it’s sweating on the floor in its yoga pants, and yet there are plenty of examples throughout to demonstrate Quine’s skill in summing up the state of a character in a few simple words. […]
[…] there are other characters too, such as Evelyn and Rik, who are able to find light and love in their lives in the same way that Shigem and Kim have, and the warmth and tenderness of these characters serves to further illustrate that in contrast Angel is unable to escape the darkness, and by the time we meet him he has already been consumed by it. If Shigem and Kim, Evelyn and Rik are our redemption stories, there can be no doubt that the cautionary tale of Angel Deon is one of utter damnation. […]
Jaymi is our guide through this world; he is the smoke that furls through the brains of our donor-imaginations, igniting each nerve centre as he rises. […] Despite Jaymi’s authority as our narrator, the English language is the true star of this trans-corporeal, trans-reality, trans-possibility, trans-mindfuck, all-transcending diva of a debut.”
—Jen McFaul, author, on The Imagination Thief, “A trans-corporeal, trans-reality, trans-mindfuck, all-transcending diva of a debut…”, http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R3CMF1OX80JTTK
“a dynamic that renders [narrator Jaymi] thrillingly amoral and makes this ambitious and unusual novel wholly unpredictable. […] he finds he can explore not only the real memories of his new friends but their fantasies as well. These sequences are incredibly powerful, richly poetic and unique. Rohan Quine is a very insightful writer, with an understanding and empathy that anchor these hyper-eroticised, often surreal flights in a comprehensible reality. There is, if anything, an embarrassment of riches here but that’s a minor consideration. As a reader, you wonder what Jaymi would make of you, whether he would find you as interesting as the terrifying but beguiling gangster Lucan or his demented lover, Angel. Angel, out of his mind on drugs, female hormones and desire that seems to claw out of the page at you, is the exact opposite of the coolly aloof Jaymi […]. The freewheeling structure allows the author to dip in and out of different narratives and styles, worlds and fantasies. It also enables him to explore multiple genres, often within the same sequence. […] Despite the original structure, however, events do build to a tragic climax whose only predictability is that it is fittingly strange. I often like to mention other similar books as a ‘way in’ for review readers but there is nothing else like this novel and that is my best recommendation.”
—Andrew Wallace, novelist, on The Imagination Thief, http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/ROSJ7TIXAU5UL
“It feels like something that will win major awards… I look forward to gritting my teeth and applauding loudly at next year’s Booker.”
—Meg Davis, literary agent (Ki Agency), on The Imagination Thief
“Rohan is a dazzling writer […] 21st century Beat Generation dreamweaver!”
—Peter Godwin, musician, on The Imagination Thief, http://on.fb.me/1yBmQkf
“I finished The Imagination Thief late last night, and found it … many things, I suppose, but I know they add up to ‘deeply overwhelming’. It took my own imagination prisoner for a long while, and I cannot think of a better accolade for a true novel. I can’t recall the details of any earlier version (which is why I’ve been able to read this as from zero), nor can I find an earlier copy anywhere, but I don’t remember that the older version ended the same as this—has it changed? Because now, I read the last few pages—the van trip back to NY—as completely new to me, and I thought you have wonderfully created a quite unforgettably convincingly-constructed exit for the reader from this (again, overwhelming) experience.”
—Dr Michael Halls, on The Imagination Thief
“quite brilliantly written. I have now read it twice and think it is full of amazing descriptions—especially those detailing the backgrounds of the various characters as divined by Jaymi in his magic insights. I am not on the whole a fan of magic realism, if one is to call it that, but your prose is so lyrical and beautiful that I felt quite seduced by it. The same applies to your dialogue which is richly colloquial. I am sure that the writing alone will arouse the admiration of the discriminating reading public.”
—Jeremy Trafford, novelist, on The Imagination Thief, www.goodreads.com
“fiery work. How rollickingly it proceeds down to its last bloodily beautiful drop.”
—Willie Coakley, poet, on The Imagination Thief
“This book packs many powerful items of weaponry behind the smooth flow of its surface, few of which are suitable for unsupervised children and many of which are downright dangerous even for adults. Whether exulting in the human imagination’s most ecstatic heights, scraping its terrifying cellars, lightly conjuring its gentlest loneliness or rattling out its most raucous joys, The Imagination Thief’s language is fiercely vivid and polished, always fluid and precise, and very often explosively rich and rhythmic. Despite including lots of very natural and colloquial dialogue, the novel as a whole demands your focus; but it repays that focus ten-fold, with a ferocious and sensual dose of imaginative intensity and inventiveness that would be quite sufficient to fill at least two or three more normal/responsible/house-trained novels. Genuinely unlike anything else you’ll have read, The Imagination Thief will take you places you have never been, it will slap you around with a dark and mirthful love that you’re not expecting, and it will leave you richer.”
—Cradeaux Alexander, artist, on The Imagination Thief, www.goodreads.com
Front cover of paperback of The Imagination Thief
Back cover of paperback of The Imagination Thief
Full cover of paperback of The Imagination Thief
Cover of ebook of The Imagination Thief
The Imagination Thief’s covers are also in the Google Photos album “Rohan Quine – THE IMAGINATION THIEF (novel) – images”.
Images of The Imagination Thief’s mini-chapter titles are in the Google Photos album
“Rohan Quine – THE IMAGINATION THIEF (novel) – mini-chapter titles”.
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