You don't see me writing about books much. The reason for that is simple: I just don't read as much as I used to. Back in the days I tore through pages and paragraphs, reading whatever I could get my hands on. But over time books were replaced by games, films and music. And with all the blogging work there's hardly any spare time left to take a book and sit down comfortably. That doesn't mean my interest in books has completely faded away though.

cover of Nymphomation

I used to love horror novels. Everything from Clive Barker to James (not Frank) Herbert was a sure win. Later I discovered the comedy of Pratchett and the urban fantasy of Neil Gaiman, but right before I quit the reading business I stumbled upon a certain writer that changed a lot for me. One with the ability to degrade everything that came before to mere pulp (most probably one of the reasons I lost my interest in books).

The man I'm talking about is Jeff Noon. A Brit with a remarkable talent when it comes to literature. He dabbles mostly in a pool of urban fantasy and sci-fi, set in an alternate Manchester reality which feels both familiar and alien at the same time. His first book (Vurt) introduced his readers to this strange little world, he's been building on it ever since.

Nymphomation is his third novel set in this world and serves as a loose prequel to his first book. Several familiar concepts are conceived in this book (like the Vurt feathers), though it stands on its own two feet well enough. Nymphomation is the tale of domino games, fractals and mathematical mazes. A true hype overshadowing Manchester, gluing people to their television sets and filling their minds with only one thing. Winning the lucky domino, even killing for a chance of victory if needed.

Noon's characters are a little bland at times, even bordering on simple stereotypes. And if you want a highly original storyline you're probably at the wrong address too. Even though Noon's setting and writing style is extremely creative, the plot hidden underneath it is quite standard indeed. Not that it degrades the experience, but it might guide you to start the book with the right expectations.

Noon's undeniable strength lies with his choice of words. Each book has a set of themes, themes that evoke certain words which are then royally applied throughout the whole book. Adjectives and nouns that have no sensible relation whatsoever are thrown together in favor of a running vibe throughout his story. And if Noon can't express himself with the existing English vocabulary he isn't afraid to make up some of his own. But always recognizable, never hard to understand and ever so in line with the themes of the book. It's this particular trait that makes his style so recognizable (and lovable).

Nymphomation takes a little time to get up to steam. If you're a Noon noob it's probably better to start with Vurt (his introduction to that strange little world living in his mind), but if you've tasted his work before and you're hungering for more, Nymphomation is a safe bet. Not his best, but still strikingly spectacular.