Clear Water - Will Ashon

Ashon's confident, tragicomic prose never falters

Book Review by Bram Gieben | 13 Sep 2006
Clear Water' is Will Ashon's first novel, and marks the entrance of a fresh, wry and intellectual talent onto the UK literary scene. There are many narrative strands - a former secret agent's attempts to deify himself, an investigative journalist's torrid affair with a dumpy shop assistant, a washed-up cricketer and a colourful cast of supporting characters. All are set against the background of the mysterious Clearwater complex - a subterranean shopping mall in Kent with a devious approach to security.

Tying in wartime espionage with mass-market capitalism and surveillance is a narrative conceit Ashon pulls off with ease. He gradually exposes an underlying structure of intrigue and corporate power-struggle through its impact on his characters' mishap-filled lives.

This is a book you could comfortably read on a deck chair but it also has something new and complex to say about surveillance culture and mass-market media. Ashon's confident, tragicomic prose never falters, and he effectively employs flashbacks and changes of narrative perspective that could seem muddled in the hands of a lesser writer. Those expecting some connection to Ashon's dayjob as head of Big Dada Records may be disappointed, but 'Clear Water' delivers on its own merits. An enthralling debut. [Bram Gieben]
Published by Faber & Faber. Out Now. Cover Price £12.99.