Sunday, 20 October 2013

Stuart Douglas - Zenith`s End

Stuart Douglas - Zenith`s End

Stuart Douglas` Zenith`s End is the final story in the admirable `Zenith Lives` collection published by Obverse Books. But is it an end for our eponymous anti-hero, or simply a new beginning ?

Not strictly a Blake story but one that centres around the enigmatic and intriguing character of Zenith the Albino, a worthy opponent of Blakes from the early years. IIRC, Douglas` story is the only one to refer to Blake, albeit rather obliquely. It is also (I think) the only one told by Zenith in the first person.

It begins with the central character, now rendered immortal due to some mysterious dealings in the past, pondering his current situation and feeling more than a little world-weary and out of place in `70s London ( "Baker Street looked empty and grey in the winter rain, and more than ever I was aware that my time had passed").

He embarks on a quest that takes him from Baker Street to Scotland Yard`s Black Museum and then, perhaps unexpectedly, to the home of a flamboyant rock star. There events take a turn that surprises even him.

In the early part I was not quite sure what to expect. To tell the story from Zenith`s point of view, to see the world through his eyes is a master-stroke but one that has pitfalls for the unwary. To over-emphasise his world-weariness would be to cheapen it, overdo the understatement and you may miss the mark.

As the story progresses, however, I was carried along with it and there were some lovely touches, particularly in the visit to the Black Museum.

The tale has a twist or two before it runs it`s course, and is none the worse for that.

I myself am an admirer of post-war Blake, a period that I gather holds little appeal for Mr Douglas. Most of my favourite authors are dead. It follows I am what marketing types used to call a "tough sell" when it comes to this sort of think. If Mr D and the other contributors to this collection can win me over - and they have -  the chances are it will appeal to others as well.

Stuart Douglas and Obverse Books can be found at .

Most of the other stories in this worthy tome have already been reviewed in this blog - you`ll find them easily enough if you search about a bit.