Jack Bick is an interview journalist at a glossy lifestyle magazine. From his office window he can see a black column of smoke in the sky, the result of an industrial accident on the edge of the city. When Bick goes from being a high-functioning alcoholic to being a non-functioning alcoholic, his life goes into freefall, the smoke a harbinger of truth, an omen of personal apocalypse. An unpromising interview with Oliver Pierce, a reclusive cult novelist, unexpectedly yields a huge story, one that could save his job. But the novelist knows something about Bick, and the two men are drawn into a bizarre, violent partnership that is both an act of defiance against the changing city, and a surrender to its spreading darkness.
With its rich emotional palette, Plume explores the relationship between truth and memory: personal truth, journalistic truth, novelistic truth. It is a surreal and mysterious exploration of the precariousness of life in modern London.
Reviews of Plume
- Praise for Plume:
- ‘…a superbly observed ‘how we live now’ satire on life and media in contemporary London’ Sunday Times
- ‘The book is joy unconfined: the reader is sucked along unstoppably, but glorying too with uncomfortable recognition. Fabulous in every sense’ Spectator
- ‘In Plume, Will Wiles both re-invents and murders the London novel, in a spectacular act of evil, surgical intensity’ Warren Ellis
- ‘Plume’s cast of semi-sinister clowns aren’t the most sympathetic, but it’s the suffocating, Ballardian sense of place and mental and physical deterioration that Wiles, a design and architecture writer when not a novelist, does so horribly well. Plume is about a man trapped in a prison of his own making who endlessly gets nowhere at all’ Financial Times
- ‘Wiles takes us deep into a subtly altered London at the mercy of the malign forces of gentrification, and seemingly in the hands of a mysterious tech maven whose new app can track every user at all times…an eerie and sometimes pretty sharp satire on the more sinister commodifications of modern life’ Daily Mail
- ‘Just brilliant, full of penetrating observations and an absolutely gorgeous dark-down wit’ Adam Roberts, author of The Real Town Murders
- ‘Relentless in its energy, wit and imagination, it’s outstanding’ Mail on Sunday
- ‘Over the course of three novels, his world has emerged as a particular kind of anonymous 21st-century hinterland; whether it be the airport-accessible limbo of The Way Inn, the post-Soviet wasteland of Care of Wooden Floors or the outskirts of London as depicted in the present book: “beyond Barking the city really fell apart … We were in the distribution steppes, the pylon orchards’ Guardian
- ‘The perfect novel for our times’ James Smythe, author of I Still Dream
- ‘I was dazzled by it’ Sam Byers, author of Perfidious Albion