– CLOSED – Black Glass
Thanks to Scribe Publications for making two copies of this wonderful novel about a future Melbourne available to readers of The Melbourne Urbanist. Go to Scribe Publications to see a short promotional video and plenty of complimentary reviews of this debut novel.
I read it last year and I reckon this piece by Gerard Elson at Readings sums it up well:
We’re not sure of the year in which Black Glass is set, though Mundell parcels out hints throughout. Enough time has elapsed since the present-day for Barack Obama to be referenced as ‘That old president guy’; inner Melbourne has been hollowed by economic collapse; a clandestine whiz controls public temperament through the deft modulation of light, sound and scent in contained spaces; and citizens who wish to live above the line submit their particulars to the National Documentation and Identity Database, while everyone else is left to roam the outlaying Regions as neglected ‘undocs’. It’s a bleak, recognisable vision of a possible tomorrow and Mundell colours it with imagination and intelligence.
The proliferation of corporate influence and state-sanctioned surveillance – and the ways people work to evade these all-seeing eyes – is key to Black Glass. Along with Milk, the aforementioned ‘moodie’, we follow undoc sisters Tally and Grace, who find themselves separated after an accident and eking out very different existences within city limits. There’s also Damon Spark, investigative reporter, as well as a host of memorable supporting characters, all of whom operate, to varying extents, in the shadows or at society’s fringe. Accordingly, Mundell lets her story unfold via various viewpoints and styles: notebook entries, transcribed conversations, descriptions of CCTV footage, typical third-person prose, etc. It gives the book the apposite paranoid feel of a dossier or official report, without ever calling too much attention to the stylistic device.
Here’s an extract from the review by Rjurik Davidson in The Age:
‘It is a Melbourne that keeps us absorbed all the way to the novel’s denouement. As in much speculative fiction, Mundell’s aim is to warn us against destructive trends in contemporary society. What, she asks in this lively debut novel, are we becoming?’
To be in the running to get a copy, all you have to do is say which café, restaurant or bar in Melbourne you think has the most interesting ambience. Not so much food, more the design, setting and people who frequent it. Submit your entry on this page, using the Comment box below. Entries close in ten days at midday Thursday, 15 September 2011. One entry only per person.
As always, the quality of your nomination has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not you’ll win a copy of the book. The winner will be determined at random. However, elaboration is encouraged. If you’re really, really desperate and don’t care what the world thinks of you, “Pascoe Vale RSL Club” is acceptable.
If you’re one of the winners, you’ll have to provide Scribe Publications with an Australian address they can post the book to (I won’t know who you are or where you live).