13. David Peace commends ‘Doctor Forrest’

David Peace by Naoya Sanuki

David Peace is, of course, the widely and ardently admired author of the ‘Red Riding Quartet’ – 1974, 1977, 1980, and 1983– and of GB84, The Damned United, Tokyo Year Zero and Tokyo Occupied City. Earlier this year he read The Possessions of Doctor Forrest in proof and gave my publisher this quote:

‘THE POSSESSIONS OF DOCTOR FORREST drags the gothic novel kicking and screaming into this new century replete with its own horrors and demons; and confirms Richard T Kelly as one of the most astute and imaginative novelists of his generation.’

Having Peace’s endorsement is an especially precious thing for me, as I think of him as one of the most formidable English writers working today. Part of his passionate fan-base is rooted in the crime-fiction genre, and Peace has a foot in that camp, clearly. But you would dub him a writer of ‘crime stories’ only if you were comfortable calling Dostoyevsky a writer of ‘murder stories’. It would be more to the point to say that corruption and evil are matters that Peace returns to repeatedly, forensically, and not for mere entertainment. He is a stylist of uncommon rigour, with a fearsome ability to dig (or claw) into a mood. No-one is better at evoking states of mental torment. Factual research, expertly incorporated, loans his novels a foursquare density. As Martin Amis once wrote of Norman Mailer, Peace’s ‘presence on the page’ fills one with disquiet.
I think it was Peace himself, interviewed for GB84, who coined the expression ‘occult history’ to thumbnail his approach to his true-life material. The excellent Guardian journalist and author Andy Beckett, reviewing GB84 for the London Review of Books, wrote of Peace’s inimitable style as ‘political gothic.’ I can’t imagine any sensible reader who would hear these two luminous phrases and not be drawn to uncover the enthralling writings and the extraordinary writer so described.


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