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Home > Catalog > Literature > Security --- an edgy new form of ex-pat novel

Security --- an edgy new form of ex-pat novel
May 01, 2010

$5 (inc. S/H)

[$5, postpaid in US. HUGE SALE!] This is a 100-page novella by the exciting writer James Nowlan.

A rocking title from the ULA PRESS zinebook series!

Here's a $5 ZINEBOOK! Zines are are ZINEBOOKS! Check it out! Pulp is back! The new pulp is here!

From the back cover:

Security is a completely new take on the ex-pat genre. Instead of going on a journey to an exotic land that opens up new vistas we follow a brutal downward spiral. A strange and terrifying tale of an individual lost in chaos who goes from a fundamentalist religious community to homelessness in Los Angeles to a haunted loft on the Bowery to finish working as a bank guard in the housing projects that ring Paris.

(The book is published with raw typos, adding to an edginess that MFA-ish literatis always fail to capture with their attempts at typographic innovation.)

NEWSFLASH! NOW AN EBOOK! Click below to order yourself a PDF download of this book for $7 via PayPal. Cool! NOW $3.95! This special price is a tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Kerouac's ON THE ROAD which first came out at $3.95...

Nowlan recently made a feature length film in which a wino, a whore, a CEO, a bourgeoise, a top model, a criminal, and a security guard are locked in a warehouse and forced to fight for survival by a sadistic ex-KGB agent turned gameshow host. Really.


OK, I know this book is good, but when no one in the USA will review your books and when every "literary" person tells us we're wasting our time, it gets a little lonely. So here a reviewer shows up who actually paid for his own book. And I didn't even know he was a reviewer. That makes him the real deal. Is it coincidence that he is in the UK? Well, check out his take on this "unpublishable" novel...

From the Review: "With its jacket the colour of own-brand plonk and a price tag that seems just the wrong side of hefty [overseas postage!], you might be put off from trying James Nowlan's *Security*. The fact that no major publisher would touch it and that it's been put out by the ULA hints at pulpy contention ... the ULA prides itself in distributing books that rattle cages. ... Regardless of the politics the finished product itself is a genuine rarity. Drawing heavily from his own experiences as a homeless alky who lived to tell the tale, Nowlan's book feels like antimatter when compared to the bloodletting of American Psycho and Fight Club. [Whoa!]

... Security chronicles the life and times of one Tom McGern, a meek teen drifter ... The misadventures he endures would make even Lindsay Anderson's eyes spin, and range from relentless bureaucratic mayhem to cannibalistic terror at the hands of syringe-wielding pimps.

Plotwise, it's no Cloud Atlas, but Nowlan infuses his prose with a gutwrenching, blackly comic humility that transposes like Hubert Selby Jr rewriting The Ginger Man. ... The author uses some menacing nuances to illustrate the sly torment of the weak by the strong, and the merciless flogging of the chaff by the weak. 'Don't worry, we're all Americans,' quips a psychotic ex-pat barman in one sequence, 'some of us just don't know it yet.'

*Security* remains consistently vivid throughout, and burns like a mouthful of Tennant's Super against the shandy of many of today's 'my miserable life' fictionalisations. ... They say true grit is only found on the ground, and Nowlan's highly engaging debut feels like it's been chiselled out of a jackboot waffle using a Gauloise dog-end. If you're pining for some plucky underdog triumph then you should go and read Robin Of Sherwood, but if you can stomach seeing the not-so-merry Mr Littlejohn's mantra in full swing then brace yourself for Security. You couldn't make it up.

Reviewer's email postscript: "The ULA is a wicked idea. Keep it going!"

Link to Full review:

Author Info

Nowlan was a skidrow wino from the age of fourteen. Somehow he ended up living in France (he thinks that maybe someone hit him on the head and took him there in a sack). He worked as a security guard in Paris and almost went insane. He’d be okay now but just can’t forget that everyone is out to get him. Really.

JP's Impression

This is a fresh book by someone who's lived on the streets. His novella character does likewise. But he doesn't do anything low, in the sense of wicked, to get by. He's kind of an innocent. He's not afraid to say what he thinks, not afraid to say that he's afraid. He wishes no one ill-will. He's not cynical. That's what I like about this book. I don't give a rat's-behind about edgy or vicious or dark. I don't read for vicarious contact with nastiness. No, this work is about someone trying to stay on his feet and keep his eyes open. His injuries and setbacks prevent him from doing much more, but that's enough to help us readers see things a little better. ...He gets surprised. He finds that life keeps him moving. We readers are gently, gradually surprised, too, by some pretty big smacks upside the head. But there's some tenderness. I personally started to get into the rough editing. It resonated with the street tone in a fresh way. Living unprotected on the street is an offkilter way to be. The resulting writing isn't always going to be buffed. You're going to go on a ride like you haven't been on before. Through places you might think you know. I'll leave it at that.

Here's an Excerpt...

‘We have a little job for you.’


‘Take something to note it down please.’

‘Yes I have a pen.’

‘All right then, it is for the guarding of a bank in a suburb called Posledny.’

Tom felt a sudden chill of stark terror remembering the evil looking housing project on the hilltop and he let out a weak, ‘oui.’ The sorrowful voice then gave the work details as Tom jotted them down with a trembling hand.

After a not very encouraging good luck Tom was left alone in the cold predawn apartment to prepare himself to confront a day that threatened to be the worst yet. A strong pot of coffee only gave him the jitters so bad that he had trouble tying his tie. Navigating through the subway on the way to the suburban train station he felt like an unwholesome morsel of food that was slowly being digested by the intestines of a monster. After transfering to the commuter train he could feel the palpable presence of a certain doom approaching and when crossing the plain towards the institutional looking residential block he felt like a condemned man on a police skiff seeing Alcatraz rising from the green waves of San Francisco bay.

After getting off the train in the dank underground station and climbing up a series of sabotaged escalators he found himself in the deserted center of a group of blank hundred foot wall like buildings that showed no sign of life except for black fire stains running up their sides, making them look as if they had been attacked by beseiging hordes and left pillaged; all the inhabitants carried away or massacred. Feeling small and vulnerable he looked around the square for the bank that he was supposed to be guarding.

The few attempts to cheer up the landscape, a fountain and a childrens playground, had been so savagely vandalised it looked as if a tornado had passed. All the businesses were boarded up except for one in the corner farthest from him that was covered with thick metal shutters and looked as if it too had been attacked by the pyromaniac maurauders. He walked past all the storefronts feeling like the last man on earth. When he came to the last one he saw the logo of the bank he had been told to go to. ‘How could I be working here?’ he thought. It looked even more damaged than all the others; he couldn’t possibly imagine that it would open. Surveying the place again he saw no other possibilities, then he spotted a man dressed in a black military type uniform coming towards him. Wanting to runaway but not knowing where to go Tom crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall to see what would happen.

...and an author photo... I think it's disturbing in a good way...

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jp - , posted on Sep 27, 2008
I just deleted a ton of spam from this article.

Well, spammer, are you happy? YOU LOST, as always. And you brought bad luck on yourself, even if you were only present via an automated spambot program.

I reinstalled my log-in software and, presto, YOU'RE GONE, like the cursed ghost you are.