As the countdown for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature starts, it is time to dust your bookshelves and grab this book that transports you to London.
The setting of Plume is ominous: a column of smoke fills the London sky and you are filled with a mix of humour and a British sense of dread.
Jack Bick is a journalist at a glossy lifestyle magazine. From his office window, a black column of smoke rising to the sky, is visible. It appears to be the result of an industrial accident on the edge of the city. Our story begins.
As Jack meets Oliver Pierce, a cult novelist, something strange happens. The writer knows something about Bick, and the two men – the writer and the journalist -- are pulled into a bizarre, violent partnership. It is a vortex that grips the reader.
Plume is a beautiful piece of work with a rich emotional setting. The book explores the relationship between truth and memory. It talks about the mysterious exploration of life in present day London.
Wiles has been hailed for his writing style. Plume, his third book, is both stylish and funny. It highlights the downsides of alcoholism, which Wiles admits is based on his own experience of drinking earlier.
Drinking in the shower
“Another shameful first,” Jack, the protagonist in the Plume, concedes. “Maybe there wasn’t much material difference between drinking in the shower in the morning and drinking on the Tube on the way into the office.”
Plume is essentially set in the world of lifestyle journalism with a protagonist who likes his booze. He is often drawn to farcical scrapes, which add to his misfortunes as he tries to hide them. In the process, Jack winds up in complete disarray.
In Plume, an entire house in London falls into a void, and the inference is that the city will follow suit. As the smoke expands to choke the whole of London, the novel begins to unravel its full plot.
Plume is mired in a great finality – as behooves a quintessential London novel. Catch this gripping read before Christmas and you will proceed to the next year a lot perceptive and wise.
Ahmad Nazir is a UAE-based freelancer writer