From the author of 19 Knives and My White Planet comes a brilliant suite of stories built around music and travel. Whether it’s a band coming apart at the ruins of Pompeii, or tours through Napoli’s “volcanic dust and volcanic drugs and jackal-headed bedlam and mountains of stinking trash”; or a nostalgic stroll past the homeless in Victoria’s inner harbour while “gentle Tunisian techno” rides the breeze, where the addicted populate park benches, as weighted as Shakespearean characters … “lit rock and tiny chalice hidden under his shirt, get it all, draw every wisp of the wreath and heavy is the head that wears the crown, that lights the lighter.” Or it’s Steppenwolf or The Youngbloods drifting from a car radio as “an ambulance siren and lights fly our street … a flashing mime show of grief’s rocket.” Or, perhaps they’re in Iceland, or Denmark, “somewhere seriously lunar and attractive” spending wheelbarrows of cash the record execs didn’t give them. Or it’s the Viper Room, Sunset Boulevard, a bar in Butte, Montana, or Johnny Cash in Tijuana.
The five stories that comprise Czech Techno are replete with the sizzle and jump we have come to expect in a Mark Jarman story – “those shadowbox anthems of lost icy street corners and vanished republics” are on grand display, his herky-jerky emblematic style in full roar. And the quest for love, the matters of the heart, is ever-present, weaving through these stories like a knife blade through sand.