THERE IS SOME PRECEDENT, OF COURSE, FOR THE CENTRAL CHARACTER OF A NOVEL BY ‘A CULT ROCK STAR’ BEING “A CULT ROCK STAR”. IN 1990 LORD IFFY BOATRACE SPUTTERED FROM THE PEN OF IRON MAIDEN’S BRUCE DICKINSON.
His book read as a Tom Sharpe homage, a furtive Tuesday teatime hand-shandy, a tuna ‘n’ sweetcorn sandwich farce wrapped in (racy!) lacy knickers. Day-glo ONE THREE ONE, Julian Cope’s knackers-out new novel, however, is a proud-peacocking, pants-on-head, E-cut-with-phet-fuelled, rave-whistling, sacrificial bonfire brain orgy. You can almost smell the smoke at the turn of each page.
Subtitled “A Time-Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel”, it follows fourth dimension-travelling narcotic connoisseur and 1980s musical burn-out Rock Section on his return to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, years after kidnap and torture during football tournament Italia 90. Intent on righting the heinous wrong, Section’s use of a copious (hey!) quantity of prescription drugs and his quest to find the ancient doorways hidden along the island’s main highway (the 131 which gives the book a title) lead to a series of greater truths awaiting him. Judgement, consequences, hoodwinking on the grandest scale, Gnosticism versus agnosticism…
The self-proclaimed Arch Drude’s wicked way with the written word will be of absolutely no surprise to those who visit his website to take monthly address, nor those who have swallowed his hefty stone circles ‘n’ you guidebooks (THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN (1998) and 2004’s THE MEGALITHIC EUROPEAN) and his righteous compilations of music essays (JAPROCKSAMPLER (2007), KRAUTROCKSAMPLER (1996 and hard to find) and last year’s mighty COPENDIUM).
Applied to unlikely fantasy fiction (whether this new novel or the third eye-popping account of his own life told through HEAD-ON (1994) and 2000’s REPOSSESSED), Julian Cope’s vigorous stoking of the English language has a tendency to flame up. There are few lines here which do not burn a hole through the paper. If you’re Kindling you will be, as he may have put it himself, fried.
ONE THREE ONE by Julian Cope
Published on 19th June 2014 by Faber & Faber
Paperback / 448 pages / ISBN: 9780571270361
A limited number of signed copies of ONE THREE ONE are available from Faber & Faber. Order here. To trail publication of his head-bending novel, Julian Cope and legendary DJ Andy Weatherall have created rave track ROCK SECTION – said to be by forgotten Baggy legends Dayglo Maradona. Issued by Rough Trade, order on limited edition 12″ vinyl here.