I first met North at the Polari launch party for Boys & Girls, in July 2010. I think it would be fair to describe him as a shy man, he was so petrified by the prospect of reading from his short story 'Exit Through The Wound' that a friend stood in for him. It was on that night, however, that I told North that if I was only ever going to publish one novel, it would have to be by him. And now those words are almost a reality, as North and I are just waiting on final corrections from the proofreader on his debut novel, Exit Through The Wound.
A few people have asked me why and how I only commission. There are a range of answers, some of them prosaic and business-like (I am indeed trying to make Glasshouse a profitable business aka not go bust) but the main instinct is pure instinct. With North, I could see huge potential in his short story, which in some ways is a very early sketch of what Exit Through The Wound is, but more than that I could see what an affable and personable person he is, one with a sharp sense of humour. A few people have also told me that he is very good looking. I believe in empiricism and am awaiting proof on this.
But seriously, my belief in North was validated a few months ago, when I started reading the first draft of the novel. This is no hyperbole: it is one of the funniest and unflinching novels I have ever read. You instantly bond to the narrator, Maine, and drift along with him from nightclub to work to commute to the arms of the woman he loves. For me, there are hints of Vonnegut in the bleak humour of it all, plus a touch of Bukowski in the brevity. It is a novel with its heart in America, hence the cover, but its soul is truly European, couched in a sense of self that is philosophical without ever being pretentious or manufactured. It just is.
I expect that North will spend many an hour explaining to people what the title, Exit Through The Wound, actually means. Here I am going to proffer my explanation. And North, you must forgive me on this, as I am about to refer to Greek myth. For me, the title and the novel captures the broken heart of my thirty something generation, where we are each in our own ways Prometheus bound upon a rock, an eagle gnawing on our liver, only for it to grow back and start again the next day. An economic, ethical and creative crisis have held us back. But all we can do is laugh about it and carry on.
I hope you will buy Exit Through The Wound so you can share in what is an amazing debut from an author with a bright future ahead of him.