James Scudamore’s unnerving third novel, centring on a former psychiatric hospital, unravels its secrets with invention and skillIn his essay on the writer and teacher John Gardner, Raymond Carver recalled a lesson learned from his class: “Any strategy that kept important and necessary information away from the reader in the hope of overcoming him by surprise at the end of the story was cheating.” It’s an injunction to which James Scudamore’s third novel, Wreaking, pays no heed – and in doing so creates a turbulent, uncertain and often compelling narrative.We first meet the central characters – Jasper Scriven, his daughter Cleo and her childhood friend Roland – in a present thick with the past’s implications. Scudamore resolutely refuses to offer clues as to why Cleo has a glass eye, why her father is psychologically disturbed and wandering alone through a former psychiatric hospital, and why Roland works as a heavy for a criminal, but it’s clear that events at Wreaking, the building Scriven now haunts, are the genesis of these fractured souls. The novel circles these events, closing in on them like prey. It’s a tactic that asks a lot of the quality of the writing and, in particular, the …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books