WHAT WOULD GARY GYGAX DO? | BOOK REVIEW
Tim Cundle (Earth Island Books)
South Wales author Tim Cundle’s penchant for introspective storytelling mixed with brutal honesty made his debut novel Compression a highly entertaining read. For his sophomore outing, Cundle has reached even deeper into his psyche: What Would Gary Gygax Do? is wonderfully self-derogatory, furiously loathsome and packed with themes any child of the 1970s or 80s – thus twentysomethings during the 90s – should recognise. The Porthcawl native’s collection of short stories, notes and essays, collected over a period of more than two decades, represent a lifetime as a proud geek and punk rocker.
It’s a lifestyle not suited to everybody, but Cundle’s experience in the UK punk scene has served him well – and provided plenty of ammunition for the likes of The Maclaren Theory and Debbie Did Dallas And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt, tales filled with all the woes of life on the road, its promise and then the reality. Filed, Numbered And Indexed is an ode to anyone who has felt the familiar pain of being part of a band with rotating drummers, guitarists with more pedals than ability and stubborn bass players.
Punk’s transition from the gutter to MTV in the 90s was difficult to take for those willing to spill blood for the cause, and is the catalyst for the excellent Bargain Basement Rebellion, where Cundle’s passion for his scene is again laid bare. Poignant moments, and a feeling of real loss, can be found in the likes of Long Live The King and The Great Equalizer – where characters of the past and their traits are fondly remembered, but are quickly juxtaposed with intermissions of heartfelt anger and profound rage, that any hardcore band would be happy to call their lyrics. Indeed, Cundle’s writing has such fire in its belly and breadth of emotions, you feel that at any given moment he may leap out of the pages and either give you a great big hug or a knuckle sandwich.
For all the bitter, nihilistic rage within What Would Gary Gygax Do?, you’ll also find a love letter to friends, family, music, movies, geek culture and Jenny Agutter. The role of sorting through this maelstrom of emotions is given to artist Rachel Evans, whose outlandish and vibrant pieces bring the whole thing to life. In keeping with the theme of the book, publishers Earth Island have created a limited edition dice game to accompany early orders.
Tim is fast becoming the spokesperson for those disenchanted and disillusioned souls who still have the will and the tenacity to hold out for that one big score. What Would Gary Gygax Do? has tears, laughter, tragedy, grit and a whole heap of heart and deserves a place in everybody’s rotten old sock come December 25.
Price: £9.99. Info: here
words CHRIS ANDREWS