If you like stories told in the tradition of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then you will love Inkker Hauser Part 1: Rum Hijack. We get to know Phil Conquest’s nameless protagonist through a first person stream of consciousness and his random collisions with other characters. Essentially, our hapless narrator is a literary legend in his own mind, despite the fact that he hasn’t actually written anything and is crippled by writer’s block.
This story is so much more than that though. Conquest hooks us in by giving his protagonist just enough harmless quirks and vulnerability that we might identify with him. He is a man of routine, eating the same food every day and appearing to be a regular at the handful of places he frequents. Like many of us, he has a somewhat schizophrenic relationship with Joe Public and the inevitable social media, displaying a healthy dose of misanthropy coupled with a desperate neediness. Once we’re hooked in, however, Conquest reveals to us that our anti-hero is probably on the wrong side of nutty as a fruit cake.
His flat is a metaphor for his mind with its chaotic jumble of smashed up furniture and numerous television sets. He seems unable to discern between what’s useful and what’s just clutter. His obsession with dead birds and submarine disasters quickly cements the idea that this character is not quite right and his heavy drinking exacerbates his mental fragility.
There is a touching poignancy about him that is almost heart breaking. He has inherited his granddad’s flat and is surrounded by older people with whom he has little in common. He is obviously influenced by his granddad, another frustrated writer, who is still very much a presence in his life despite being dead. Probably the most telling indicator of his inner loneliness is when he talks about playing dress up and his longing for a playmate.
The heart and power of this novel is its humour and I guarantee you will find an abundance of episodes that will tickle your funny bone. My laugh out loud moments included the image of our anti-hero changing into a sailor top to watch submarine videos and the way, after an evening spent trying to drunkenly connect with his granddad’s spirit, he has an exorcism style vomiting session. Best of all though is the fact that he has adopted Crocket’s theme by Jan Hammer as the soundtrack to his life.
I loved this story and can’t recommend it highly enough. Conquest is an assured, talented writer, who takes us on a hilarious journey into the mind of his wonderfully unique character.