Enter Oblivion – C.M. Harris (Casperian Books)

Buy it direct from Casperian Books.

Unique characters can transform a thin, shopworn plot into a
thing of beauty, elevating a book from pedestrian to sublime with every beat of
their hearts. Add to that a culturally significant setting and perfect dialogue
that sounds spoken and not written, and you have a book to be reckoned
with—like C.M. Harris’ Enter Oblivion.

Vince Saviglio, a small-time gangster (not gangsta) wanna-be
from Brooklyn, finds himself in London, circa 1980, unsure if he wants to
continue life as a hoodlum boxer, a rent boy or a rock star. He falls in with a
crowd of equally undecided fellows, including a drag queen named Jezebel, a
couple named Nigel and John, and the improbably named Jik O’Blivion, a titled
glam-David Bowie-type pop star Just the kind of man Vince, just finding his
inner queer, could fall in love with. And does.

Harris has two marvelous characters in Vince and Jik, and
their romantic dance is dizzying—replete with mixed signals, crossed intents
and aborted couplings. Both are stoic and stubborn, refusing to admit their
attraction no matter how evident it is to their friends. Like it or not,
they’re there for each other, through knife fights with skinhead bullies,
musical failures and triumphs, and gay bar punch-ups. It takes the death of a
friend to actually bring them together, and even then you’re wondering when the
explosion will come to rip them apart again.

As mentioned before, the plot is thin on twists and turns,
but it’s as true and straightforward as life gets. Rather than pushing
characters through a set of circumstances, Harris gets them onstage and lets
them live and breathe, their drama coming naturally from their situations
instead of external forces. A beautifully paced book, the story doesn’t drag or
falter and never sounds anything less than true. The dialogue is brilliant, so
steeped in character one hardly needed any attribution to know who was
speaking. And nearly as well done were the passages about the music. Harris
seems as knowledgeable about Jik’s brand of glam pop as she is about Vince’s
early punk style, and she writes about both with equal ease.

The only problem with the book was an episode that took
Vince back to Brooklyn for a short time. I understand why Harris had to get him
out of the West End for a bit, but his departure seemed sudden and poorly
motivated, raising more questions about his past than it answered.

That small misstep aside, Enter Oblivion is a solid,
highly entertaining read that will have you wanting more before you even reach
the end.

Review by Jerry Wheeler

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