Tariq Goddard is difficult to quantify, which would likely please him immensely. In a recent radio interview he divulged not wishing to 'encourage laziness in his readers'. From that remark you would think Goddard is also a difficult read; Works you would find listed in an Appreciation For Modern Lit syllabus in the more refined of academic halls. You would be wrong. At least about him being difficult to read.
Although his characters tend to suddenly express epistemological thoughts replete with significance in bizarre moments of applied philosophy, there is a mischievous, graphic quality to Goddard's plot and character development that demands you ignore the question of whether anyone, even an idealised proletarian, would actually be descanting doctrine or dogma in the midst of some frenzied event. If anything, the characters' actions and dilemmas support, suspend, and overcome any disbelief we may have.
His fourth -and latest- The Picture Of Contented New Wealth is a page-turner from the first paragraph. A racketing tale of demonic possession in an idyllic English countryside setting that gets barely a nod as a geo point and ... We're off. Not drawn gently into an unfolding strange tale, we are instead thrown into the deep end and the only way to stay afloat is to start swimming; and turn the page.
Traditional aspects of what could be a conventional depiction of evil, and evil intent, become steadily less and less traditional. Foreshadowed hints lead us down speculative paths as to who -or what- the villain or hero of the piece is. Paths that are little side trips that don't go where we thought, but do take us back to where we need to be going.
His characters are true to the form stylised in Homage To A Firing Squad and every novel Goddard's written since: often morally inept, emotionally stunted, sometimes despicable, yet there is a level of love for the human in Goddard's construction. There's always at least one lovable individual for us to identify with. Maybe as inept and stunted as everyone else in the plot but by the end of the tale, redemption has been found or at least the possibility of redemption, and we cheer for them as they ride off into whatever setting sun they seem bent on reaching for.
It is a temptation to spell out all the goodies hidden in The Picture Of Contented New Wealth. A temptation better not given into, no matter who -or what- is getting thee behind us. Read it for yourself.
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