Until one night over the poker table, they encounter a pulp writer with wild ideas and an unscrupulous private detective, leading them into what is either a classic mystery, a senseless maze of corpses, or an inextricable fever dream . . .
Drunk on cinematic and literary influence, Muscle is a slice of noir fiction in collapse, a ceaselessly imaginative story of violence, boredom and madness.
Alan Trotter is a writer based in Edinburgh. Muscle, his debut novel, was awarded the inaugural Sceptre Prize for a novel-in-progress.His short fiction has appeared in Somesuch Stories, Under the Influence, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and elsewhere. In 2016 he collaborated with Editions at Play on the experimental digital story All This Rotting ('mesmerising' - Big Issue, 'nauseating' - Irish Times). He has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow - his dissertation concerned writers making unusual use of the form of the book.
‘Original, intelligent and compelling – a rare combination. Formaldehyde pulls off a complex narrative with frequent time and point-of-view shifts without ever losing the reader. For a novella that borders on the Kafkaesque, it has a good deal of heart. The interconnecting stories are handled adroitly – the clever structure never gets in the way of the writing, which is sharply observed, assured and witty. Smart but never showy. The most original novel I’ve read for some time.’ – Graeme Simsion
‘Immerse yourself in Jane Rawson’s Formaldehyde if you like the seriously weird or the creepily wonderful. This story has small but persistent claws; under cover of its smooth, conversational narration you will be clasped and dragged into some tough, strange places. Let it take you there. Let it blow your tiny mind.’ – Margo Lanagan
‘Skipping across different times and genres, Formaldehyde is a wonderfully strange and inventive story of love, loss and severed limbs.’ – Ryan O’Neill
'tough and compelling' - Christos Tsiolkas
'He touched my face. When his hand went along my bruised top lip and my almost broken nose, I winced from the pain. His fist went into a deep denim pocket. Pulled out a Syrinapx bottle, twisted the cap off and handed me two light blue pills.'
How did Bucky get here? A series of accidents. A tragic love for a violent man. An addiction to painkillers he can't seem to kick. An unlikely friendship with an ageing patient.
Drugs, memories and the objects of his desire are colluding against Bucky. And when it hits him. Bam. A ton of bricks ...
The shadowy places of Western Sydney can be lit up with the hope of love, but no streetlight can illuminate like obsession.
A novel of addiction, secrets and misplaced love, this is an Australian debut not to be missed.
'Down the Hume [is] essential reading in these times of "border protection"' - The Saturday Paper
'Down the Hume's propulsive rhythm feels like entering a strong current. Its fast pace and escalating plot are typical of the noir genre, but it is also filled with unexpected and precise turns of phrase, which can shift quickly from the menial to the lyrical.' - The Guardian
'Down the Hume should rightly take its place alongside the fiction of Christos Tsiolkas [and] Maxine Beneba Clarke... as work that reflects the reality and occasional ugliness of Australia's multiculturalism.' - AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW
'Down the Hume is a robust study of ethnic, class and sexual identities in contemporary Australia.'- The Weekend Australian