cover image Bleeding London

Bleeding London

Geoff Nicholson. Overlook Press, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-87951-807-3

London's infinite variety of characters, places and events naturally appeals to Nicholson (Footsucker; Still Life with Volkswagens), a discursive satirist famous for spinning deliriously funny and inventive plots around department stores, VWs, toe-licking and dining out. On this imaginative sight-seeing tour of a narrative, Nicholson's magpie-eye picks out the eccentric and the mundane in vivid vignettes while the peripatetic plot stays just one short step behind. Part of the novel belongs to the significantly named Stuart London, who has burnt out after building up a walking-tour business with his Boadicea-like wife and ending a torrid affair with Judy Tanaka, an employee obsessed with having sex, literally all over town. Stuart decides to fulfill his destiny by walking down every street in the city, inking out his path in his A-Z map and writing his impressions in a diary. Meanwhile, Nicholson follows the stalkings of Mick Walton, a Sheffield tough who has come down to sort out six chaps whom his stripper girlfriend has fingered for raping her at a party. With a provincial's distaste for the dirty, expensive, confusing city, Mick works London grotesquely (and hilariously) into his revenge. One rapist is forced to jump off London Bridge after giving Mick a guided tour at gun-point, another must answer historical and geographic trivia or have his boat scuttled. Local color and Nicholson's delightfully cynical sense of humor don't quite justify the length of time it takes Mick and Stuart to cross paths--even so, getting there's most of the fun. (Oct.)