China Mieville is an ace writer. With his collection Look For Jake, he’s claimed a place on my list of Authors To Watch Out For.
I’m placing Mieville somewhere between Clive Barker and Jorge Luis Borges. With Barker he shares a British nationality and an instinct imaginative horror, and with Borges he shares a fascination for uncanny ideas that are difficult to slot into any one genre. The last story in the collection, The Tain, seems directly inspired by a quote from Borges about mirror people. And as a story from his New Crobuzon setting, Jack, is definitely fantasy. I didn’t enjoy this one so much as I’m not familiar with this Crobuzon place, but it’ll probably make more sense in hindsight after I’ve read the relevant books.
The Tain was my favourite story, a seventy-page novella with birds made from flapping hands and otherworldly beings who narrate in the reversed text. There was also a great story about a haunted ball pit at an Ikea whose spookiness bought to mind the brilliant old time radio show Quiet Please. Mieville can also do great comedy, hinting at his political inclinations when he describes mass protests against a privatised Christmas.
Looking For Jake is the literary highlight of the last two months of my literary life. I’m definitely going to check out more of Mieville’s materials, and I suggest you consider doing the same.