Books by Geoff Nicholson

THE MIRANDA by Geoff Nicholson
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

"An existential revenge story offering a confession that doesn't beg forgiveness."
A former torture expert decides to walk the circumference of the Earth from the comfort of his own backyard. Read full book review >
THE CITY UNDER THE SKIN by Geoff Nicholson
Released: June 3, 2014

"This 'cartographic thriller' by the British-born, Los Angeles-based Nicholson doesn't always rise to its subject, but it does a good job of making us think about our surroundings and the people in them."
Young women with maps crudely tattooed on their backs hold answers to the mysteries posed in Nicholson's arch urban thriller. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 2, 2008

"Great fun."
British-born Nicholson (Sex Collectors, 2006, etc.) muses amiably on the pleasures of walking. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2006

"Titillating, if a tad overheated. (15 black-and-white photos throughout)"
An engaging, provocative and sometimes creepy sexposé from prolific novelist Nicholson (The Hollywood Dodo, 2004, etc.). Read full book review >
THE HOLLYWOOD DODO by Geoff Nicholson
Released: June 1, 2004

"Nicholson's sometimes-sharp lines don't make up for thin characters, worn subjects, and a way-too-clever narrative construct."
Pretentious comic novel about a London doctor who can't escape a life that's too much like a bad movie. Read full book review >
BEDLAM BURNING by Geoff Nicholson
Released: Feb. 15, 2002

"Nicholson (Female Ruins, 2000, etc.), smart and mercilessly funny when skewering the myopic anxieties of the literary world and those aspiring to join it, is less entertaining—because less persuasive—when retailing the antics and atmosphere of the Clinic."
A refreshing amusement about one Mike Smith, who impersonates a literary friend and ends up teaching creative writing at an insane asylum. Read full book review >
FEMALE RUINS by Geoff Nicholson
Released: June 1, 2000

"A fun, fast read with a rich premise that ultimately fails to pay off."
From Nicholson (Flesh Guitar, 1998, etc.), a comic cross-cultural romance mixed with a droll consideration of architectural aesthetics suggests that ruins—human and monumental—can be beautiful. Read full book review >
FLESH GUITAR by Geoff Nicholson
Released: Feb. 5, 1999

The wildly inventive Nicholson (Bleeding London, 1997, etc.) exuberantly lives up to his reputation with this witty, ingenious fable about a rock-and-roll guitarist. Many writers have come to grief trying to create with words an approximation of music's content and texture. Nicholson wisely sidesteps the issue by concentrating instead on the impact of the young and mysterious Jenny Slade's music on her audiences. Jenny, bright (it's rumored she studied at the Sorbonne, or Oxford), a loner, either bored or uninterested by most things not having to do with music, wants to be something other than a mere virtuoso. While she is, by all accounts, a phenomenally gifted guitarist, she's constantly driven to push the boundaries: much of what she creates (performed solo on guitar) sounds more like noise than melody. Yet it has a deep, unsettling, almost addictive effect on her audiences. Part of her ability to mesmerize may come from the peculiar guitar she travels with: it's shaped vaguely like a human torso and seems, at the climax of her concerts, to bleed. While the story follows, ironically, the outlines of a quest narrative (with Jenny as a dedicated seeker, searching to unlock the riddles at "the heart of the universe" with her music), Nicholson can't resist embroidering the tale with some typically witty and idiosyncratic touches. There is, for instance, Jenny's near-lethal encounter with Freddie Terrano, the legendary one-armed guitarist. And sprinkled throughout are excerpts from articles in the Journal of Sladean Studies, devoted to explicating her life and art, and forming a wonderful parody of academic dissections of pop culture. Then there's the language: Nicholson's characters are invariably gifted with a line of bright, sardonic chat. Jenny's quest leads her eventually to a kind of revelation, and, in an end both droll and moving, to silence. A deft entertainment, bright, surprising, and, in its consideration of the impact of popular music on our imaginations, quite penetrating. Read full book review >
BLEEDING LONDON by Geoff Nicholson
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

The prolific Nicholson's (Footsucker, 1996, etc.) 11th novel is a savagely funny, wayward, loving celebration of London's enchantments and strangeness. The power of an ancient city to seduce is demonstrated in the lives of three vividly particularized characters: Mick, a bright, laconic tough from Sheffield who has come to London seeking revenge on a group of men who, he believes, raped his stripper girlfriend; Judy, a young woman of mixed parentage (her father is Japanese, her mother British) attempting to make this city she obsessively loves her own; and Stuart, the urbane, self-satisfied head of an agency that offers an exotic array of walking tours. Anxious to find some new way to demonstrate his idiosyncratic mastery of London, Stuart hits on the idea of walking every one of its streets, a project that—if he walks ten miles a day, five days a week—should take some three years. Mick, meanwhile, who at first has a provincial's undisguised dislike and distrust of the vast, chaotic city, finds himself disturbed and intrigued by it as he goes in search of his miscreants. These parallel quests, each increasingly quixotic, allow Nicholson to poke satiric fun at London's citizens, catalogue some lively fragments of its history and geography, and anatomize the ways in which we make a city our own. In the end, Mick finds himself liberated by the possibilities of life in the city; Stuart, made arrogant by his supposed mastery of it, is grimly humbled; and Judy hits upon a weirdly transcendent way of making herself permanently one with it. The plot takes a while to build up speed, and the unfiltered blizzard of facts about London is sometimes dizzying, but Nicholson's satirical eye, his obvious love of the city, and his skill at fielding odd, convincing characters overcome any problems. A delightful fiction, and a wonderfully exasperated love letter to a great city. Read full book review >
FOOTSUCKER by Geoff Nicholson
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Wildly prolific British satirist Nicholson (Still Life With Volkswagens, 1995, etc.) offers another black comedy of obsession, this time from the viewpoint of a foot fetishist. Right from the start Nicholson's unnamed narrator tells all about his swift descent ``to hell in a shoe box,'' giving the reader an obsessive's-eyeview of every nuance of foot- and shoe- fetishism. The otherwise unremarkable hero has given up on love but never tires of searching for the perfect foot. He has a giant archive of women's shoes, photos of shoes, photos of feet, articles on foot fetishism, anything and everything to do with female feet, and he proudly lays bare his soul to the ladies whose soles he desires. Fraudulently passing himself off as a researcher, he stands outside shoestores asking women to take part in a survey, which eventually leads to him photographing, then propositioning, women with attractive feet. One day the perfect feet do appear, attached to an attractive American named Catherine, who actually loves to have her feet worshipped. The happy couple stumble upon a man who creates specialty shoes for serious shoe lovers. Seeing Catherine's Michelangelo-like feet, the shoemaker, too, is overcome with their beauty and offers, for free, to make shoes for her for the rest of her life. These elaborate creations generally include snakeskin, bone, metal, and all sorts of other intimidating materials. Eventually, however, Catherine gets cold feet (pardon the pun) about the escalatingly strange relationship and runs off with a commercial foot-photographer, angering both narrator and shoemaker to a murderous degree. While the plot is threadbare and the book slight, Nicholson once again demonstrates his biting wit and his unmatched eye for capturing modern-day compulsions. A darkly funny tale with a kick even for the most foot-phobic. (First serial to Grand Street) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 2, 1995

From the British master of social satire: another wild, sprawling romp but one that doesn't pack quite the same punch as, say, Everything and More (p. 420). With his usual varied cast of crazies, Nicholson spins a tale involving everything you've always wanted to know about the Volkswagen Beetle. Barry Osgathorpe, once known as Ishmael, a marauding anti-rich terrorist, has settled down to the quiet life in London. He now refuses to drive his Beetle (aka ``Enlightenment''), since he's come to the conclusion that all of his Zen wondering and searching will only lead him back to where he is already. Unfortunately, though, his old nemesis, a former Tory MP, has been released from an insane asylum, and there are VW bugs mysteriously blowing up all around England. Meanwhile, the nemesis's daughter, still the love of Barry's life, lives with the world's foremost Beetle collector. When the collector disappears, the old flame begs Barry to help her find him. Throw in a bunch of skinheads, a neo-Nazi with a fixation on the FÅhrer's favorite car, as well as roaming New Age campers, a prostituting reporter/dominatrix, several average VW aficionados (who repeatedly stumble into the wrong place at the wrong time), and a precocious car-stealing nine-year-old, and you have the typical Nicholson mayhem. Woven into the story are strange but true anecdotes of Bug lore involving everyone from Hitler and Charles Manson to Ted Bundy and Elvis Presley. Even so, the wild plot this time isn't anchored by the customary rock-solid underpinnings: It's little more than an exuberant joyride with a few wonderful characters and caricatures, but without Nicholson's usual vicious, dead-on satire. Still, an entertaining read by a fiendishly clever writer. Read full book review >
EVERYTHING AND MORE by Geoff Nicholson
Released: June 1, 1995

Eighth novel but only second US appearance for British writer Nicholson (Hunters and Gatherers, 1994): a darkly comic cornucopia set in a mythic London department store—gigantic and posh. The book's structure mirrors that of the sprawling, opulent store as we're taken through each of the nine floors—plus the many hidden rooms, subfloors, and secret corridors—and introduced to the over-the-top characters who inhabit Haden Brothers. There's the last of the brothers, Arnold, a recluse who keeps to himself in the store's penthouse, emerging only to ravish young shopgirls; then there are the anarchist porters who try to bring Haden Brothers to its knees; the perfect saleswoman whom everyone else hates; the apolitical, amoral, spineless artist who's there only because he can't seem to find a suitable artistic field—and who, while he contemplates searching for the right creative outlet, is being wooed by the anarchists as well as by the forces of consumerism within the store itself. Throw in a blind elevator attendant who can smell the goings-on in every corner; a kleptomaniac shopgirl; the fear of terrorism; and the ghostly presence of the architect who designed secret chambers for himself within Haden Brothers, and you have the usual Nicholson madcap, page-turning plot. But also, as usual, the author's crafty structural maneuverings are an excuse to probe deep into complex societal issues, here aiming right at the heart of conspicuous consumption, spinning off wicked takes on power and sex, longing and gratification, creativity and political engagement. Nicholson, the genius behind this commercial Tower of Babel, is both a master of large, complex, convoluted structures—and a comic satirist of biting precision. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 12, 1994

Attention fans of Evelyn Waugh, Douglas Adams, or any other clever, subversive British comedic writer: Add Geoff Nicholson to your must-read list. In this absurdly hilarious shaggy dog tale about collectors and collecting, the wickedly funny author of The Food Chain (1993) follows the misadventures of Steve Geddes, an unsuccessful London writer. When his well-employed wife finally tires of supporting him and boots him out, Steve tries to make some sense of his life by relocating to the dreary northern town of Sheffield. There he embarks on the cynical project of writing a book about people who are obsessive collectors. After dealing with the obvious cases, like hoarders of jelly molds and sports cars, he soon becomes involved with more covert collectors: people who amass lovers, knowledge, jokes, strange sounds, even imaginary beer cans. At the same time he must contend with a destructive anti-collector who threatens to ruin all of his subjects' accumulations. Then there is the mysterious door-to-door saleswoman whose 18-volume Books of Power is the strangest encyclopedia anyone has ever seen—except, of course, for Steve's friend Jim, who sets out to memorize every bizarre entry, each one a scatological jumble of random observations. And what are we supposed to make of Steve's favorite obscure writer, Thornton McCain, about whom, despite his disgust for collectors, he soon finds himself obsessing? Flying along a wild lattice of coincidences, Nicholson takes the reader into improbably funny territory. Just when you think he's spun out of control with too many different characters and plots, he brings it all together for a ridiculously inventive conclusion. On the surface a darkly hysterical romp, upon closer inspection a sly meditation on obsession, possession, and, finally, creativity. (Author tour) Read full book review >
THE FOOD CHAIN by Geoff Nicholson
Released: Nov. 30, 1993

Kinky food and sex games are the stuff of this high-energy black comedy from the British Nicholson, his fifth novel but first US publication. Virgil Marcel is flying to London as a guest of the ancient and mysterious Everlasting Club. Virgil is the obnoxious, spoiled rotten son of Frank Marcel, founder of the Golden Boy chain, Howard Johnson-like restaurants in California; the only work he's done since college is to revamp his father's one fancy restaurant, now the last word in L.A. chic. In London, a black chauffeur, Butterworth, drives Virgil blindfolded to the club, where his host Kingsley, an upper-class twit, explains the club's tradition of ``indulging in excess.'' Virgil eats and drinks with the same swinish abandon as the other members, all male, but gets into trouble when he French-kisses the naked girl who is the motionless table decoration. So begins this story of gastronomic and erotic debauch; Nicholson cuts between England (where Virgil will be kidnapped by the sexy dinner-table centerpiece, then rescued by the God-fearing Butterworth) and California, where Frank, in the course of investigating his wife's supposed infidelity, discovers his prized chef Leo ejaculating into the sauces. Nicholson sustains a tone of campy menace (by now there's a whiff of cannibalism in the air) as he brings all these characters to London in a plot that zigs and zags entertainingly, though with increasing improbability. Even more troubling, though, are the factual accounts of gastronomic and other excesses interspersed throughout. Aside from the borderline tackiness of linking those notorious modern cannibals, the Andean crash survivors, to the high jinks of the club, these passages suggest authorial obsessions run amok. Spicy fare, though some may find the aftertaste disagreeable. Read full book review >