I have to admit, I am not a massive fan of Another Justified Sinner’s opening, with the masturbating ghost and the vibrating pussy. I don’t think those bring the right reaction in me for I find them ever so slightly comical and can’t help but picturing a white apparition fondling themselves under a sheet or think about the time a colleague ordered a vagina sex toy online and for some inexplicable reason got it delivered to the office rather than into the privacy of his own home.
“I woke up to a ghost masturbating in my face. Darkness sucked in deeper darkness This kind of ringing int he ears. Then an off-white spectral, ethereal thing – like a splash of paint before a paintbrush gives form. Her eyes were screwed up incredibly tight, but I could still see the amber flash of fire in her eyes. I could still tell it was her. And she moaned very slightly and started to cum; amorphousness pushed against the bed frame, an underworld howl, and I could feel the vibrations of a contracting pussy…”
Add to that the use of the word “cum” in its cheap spelling and I am a little skeptical. But this is all a matter of taste and we all have things that prompt the wrong reaction in us or words that we can’t bear. I personally very much dislike the words “gusset” and “morsel”. I however do like the words “ethereal” and “amorphous” as well as Hopesmith’s fast-paced, modern prose. I am also promised a psychopathic anti-hero, and I just can’t resist that.
Having an anti-hero as a main character is notoriously difficult. You overdo it on the negative traits and you lose your audience. You don’t push it enough and you just end up with a regular, albeit unlikeable, main character and you also lose your audience. You need to find the perfect balance between despicable and strangely appreciable, between the intense and the comical. And on top of that you have to follow in the rather large footsteps of Martin Amis, John Kennedy Toole or David Lodge to name but a few.
Sophie Hopesmith’s tells the tale of commodity broker Marcus’ quest for redemption after the death of his girlfriend (which, incidentally he wished for) brings him to break all 10 commandments.
Eventually feeling guilty, grieving over his mother and on the verge of losing his job, he then decides to go to Africa in the second part of the book.
The premise is obviously a good one, for the struggle of man against evil is always of great interest. And as seen in Dante’s Inferno or Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment or, more recently Shriver’s We need to talk about Kevin – again to name but a few; there’s nothing like guilt, remorse and emotional turmoil to spruce up any story.
The issue with Marcus is that his quests are too abundant, his whereabouts too varied as well as the numerous dramatic events happening to him which makes the book dangerously teeter on the edge of the melodramatic, being only saved by Hopesmith’s caustic style and Marcus’ inner ignominy. There is also a change in the narrative halfway through, which suddenly shifts from 1st to 2nd person. This is a bit confusing and somehow takes the reader away from the story’s initial plot and purpose.
Although the plot could use some tightening, it is definitely worth a read.
Another Justified Sinner is available to purchase directly from Dead Ink here.
Sophie Hopesmith is a 2012 Atty Awards finalist and her background is in feature writing. Born and bred in London, she works for a reading charity. She likes comedy, poetry, writing music, and Oxford commas. All of her favourite films were made in the 70s.
The SHALLOW CREEK Short Story Competition
Mallum Colt, proprietor of Colt’s Curiosity Shop, invites authors to explore the sinister shadows and crooked streets of his once splendid town of Shallow Creek.
Guests are gifted a Shallow Creek visitor pack consisting of a map of Shallow Creek, a character profile, a specific location, and an item of interest.
These items shall act as a source of inspiration as Mallum Colt guides his guests through Shallow Creek and reveals the secrets and stories of a town bereft of sleep.
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Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
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