Troubador SpiderLand

Released: 28/05/2019

ISBN: 9781789018912

Format: Paperback

Review this Book


A Brief Look-back at a Working Life


J is either a compulsive mass-murderer reflecting on her life, or a delusional psychiatric in-patient reflecting on his; or, J is both. Possibly…
An unnamed narrator describes her role as an ‘operator’ for an unnamed organization that appears to sanction random and violent assassinations. She looks back at her life, offering first-person accounts of her childhood, her schooling and the death of her father. She describes how she has come to work for the organization, the types of murders she has committed and the reasons for committing them. She shows no remorse. She offers no justification, other than to say that she is in the business of keeping her city clean.
But all is not as it first appears. What is the organization; and why is a particular station on the London Underground so important to it? What is the nature of the training she has undergone; and why does it seem to be related to dark and violent forces at the heart of her childhood? It becomes clear that other voices are breaking through into her narrative: some in Russian, some as overheard conversations in English. The narrator may not be the woman she believes herself to be; these other voices may hold the key to her identity, as ‘J’. The question is: exactly who or what is J? 

Odd, like a dream. This is a book that I can't work out, if the narrator is alive, dead, sane or insane. Hard going in places and thought provoking in others. Not perfect but not like anything else ive ever read. Nearest comparison would be a bit like Easton Ellis and a bit like Vonneghut.

by Claude de Croix

I was diagnozed with D.I.D. dissocitive identity diorder, it used to be "split personality" Im medicated for the anxiety and probably always will be. Anyhow, this story is about someone who has D.I.D it is the most realistic depiction i have read, it is me in so many ways except the killings (spoiler!) obv. I loved this but it is not for wveryone. Its very hard reading and jumps all over the place, but that is what DID is like. I think the writer is a psychiatrist or psychologist and has obv worked in the field. Dark, deep, challenging read.

by Emma

I loved the pre-view i read. Dark stuff and very weird in places. This is inside the mind of a killer.

by SK

hmmm... where to start. The bad bits: jumps all over the place, one third of it is in Russian (!), it leaves more questions unanswered, the plot appears to start and end in exactly the same place... the good bits: I love the idea that this is in the head of the character, all of the story is going on in one hour inside her (or is it his?!) head, it's really strange and some bits really made me think... and the absolute best bit is, weird, right in the middle, the most beautiful description of surfing I have ever read! it makes sense if you re-read it... this is brilliant for an unknown writer but some of the language is a bit dense and some is abit flowery... still, you won't read anything like it...

by foxo'connell

Disclaimer: I work with the author; I have read and re-read some of this as it was being written. I am a mental-health practitioner, as is the author.

I did not find this 'literary' in a conventional sense: the plotting is erratic, the characters do not have names (being denoted by single letters) and there appear to be typographical insertions of random symbols throughout the text. I would have liked to have seen the characters fleshed out; as an example, I am still not fully aware of a large part of J's biography.

Having said that, this is the most unusual book I have read about the actual experience of a range of mental-health challenges; unusual, because it explores why a delusion may be preferable to what we, sometimes erroneously, refer to as 'reality'. It is unswerving in asking the question: what does it mean to be mentally unwell?

As a contribution to the mental-health canon, this is a brave and worthwhile attempt. I particularly recommend this to medical students who are interested in psychology and psychiatry.

by Dr S-J B

I dont ever give four stars this book gets 4 because it is just strange IN A GOOD WAY !(haha); read it and see what albums you have. In the middle of the book the main 'character' lists her favourite albums, like a poem. Brilliant. I don't understand a lot of it - i'ts definietly one that you have to read again. but it's a shortish book and every time you do read it something else comes out... about insanity and violence, surfing and trains!

by paul

Clearly the writer is a fan of great music. The title made me immediately think of Slint, who do get a sort of mention. Quite strange, this- I think it takes place inside the head of a m=patient in a consulting room with her/his psychiatrist. The 'working life' bit might all be in her head... WARNING: almost a third of this is in Russian, so if you cant speak Russian you will need to get it translated!! Why Russian? Read the book and find out!

by Steve A

I got to read this in the early stages of development... I am really looking forward to official release.....this is a puzzling, chaotic, frightening story about how a delusion can be so overwhelming and so vivid that it can be infinitely preferable to anything else- and resistant to treatment as a consequence. This is like a companion to notes from underground, in many ways. very dark, very strange. And peppered with moments of clarity and even beauty, the surfing description in the middle is lovely- and a bit like a calm oasis in a very bleak story. like others might have said, surfing has got nothing to do with the story of the character- everything is either imagined or dreamed, it seems.

by OH

I loved the premise. I loved the oddness. I liked the fractured narrative. I didn't like the Russian language bits because I don't speak Russian. This is not a perfect book, and some of it is not even enjoyable (just odd). It is different, though...

by Lara B

Love this, very unusual look at someone who has been abused, becomes unwell and tries to rationalise the abuse as being part of a training programme for a CIA type organisation (i think?) I evn laughed at some bits and that is rare when you are dealing with subject matter like this.

by Sophia Bonetti

J is delusional, that much is true. J is not a killer, though- even though she thinks she is. And that is the heart of this strange little tale. J is angry, and in the final chapter, reveals why. This is a book about memory, and about how we can choose what our memory serves (the version of reality that suits). In a n age of "fake news" this is about how we convince ourselves of our own fictions.Some of the plotting doesn't work, it must be said. The fractured narrative can be very disorienting. But those criticisms aside, this is a 230 page book: I found myself at page 110 before I realised that I wanted a break. This will suck you in. Anyone who is interested in how child abuse can distort the psyche should read this. And it isn't a misery-memoir; far from it. This is like a cross between a psychological thriller, a travelogue,and a diary.

by Sally Hanson

I am Netherlands student psychology, fourth year. This is a book that makes me think about illness in new way. I speak a little Russian and aome Serbian. I can tell you, fellow readers, that the letter at end of this book - last chapter - is a part translation of the Russian text throughout. Quite clever touch although I am not sure many people who don't speak the Russian langauge will see that! This could have been 100 more pages - not enough done to bring fo life the other characters, but i suppose thats the idea; all of the characters are faceless medical staff inside the illness. Interesting read.

by Poesi van Helden

This is about anger, memory, abuse. Not a tough read because of the subject because it’s all metaphors and euphemism. That’s not a criticism it’s what makes this not your usual misery porn. This is a strange and interesting place to visit...

by Duck and Dunne

Sorry, couldn't disagree more with EU Cummings. the disjointed arc is about what it feels like to have d.i.d. you read this and feel all over the place, not grounded or anything this book induces the feeling in the reader that people with the illness have. For that reason it's well worth a read.

by annabel march-miller

This is actully about paranoid might seem like its d.i.d but it isnt paanoid schiz is whar ron kray had.. This is like reading inside the mind of a similatly disturbed individual. The trick with this s not to read it as a novel.....this is like reading the thoughts of a very disturbed person... Read it like that and it makes sense.....j is a paranoid scizophrenicand these are her thoughts..

by Ezra

Been done this "everything is imagined". Not an original premise. This is done well though. Spoiler: the surf is a bath or shower / sanitation block... I did actually get into this. It is about schizophrenia as others have said. Three stars because: characters should have been developed further. If it was on lovely moments of writing alone i would have given four. I lved the rants about "our digital mediocrity". I laughed out loud there.

by Figginz45

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