My book isn’t a bestseller. Hell, at best, it’s a ‘seller.’ According to the pros in Episode 19 of GET LIT, I’m doing absolutely fine, but the numbers are modest.
What makes me happy, though, is that The Captain of Kinnoull Hill seems to have some legs. I still receive royalty cheques, however small. Apparently, I also still get reviews! The University of Toronto Quarterly recently published a wonderful review and I couldn’t be happier. The issue was supposed to come out last summer but for reasons I don’t know about, it was delayed until last week. Works for me.
As the Quarterly is not free, there’s no point posting a link, but author Brandon McFarlane has given me permission to cut and paste the text, as it’s part of a larger article on Emergent Fiction (trust me, it’s a copyright thing, and I’m in the clear). So read on, and if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you can do so here.
“How do you help an aging hipster recover from decades of partying, snobbery, arrogance, and narcissism? In Jamie Tennant’s The Captain of Kinnoull Hill, the solution is to send the hipster to Scotland to hang out with a thousand-year-old goblin. Dennis Duckworth is a veteran of Chicago’s Wicker Park – the pre-eminent hipster district in 1990s America.
He owns an indie music label that is raking in cash due the success of The Random, an unexpected hit maker that has attracted the attention of Universal Music. Dennis is ready to sell out after years of plumping acclaimed, but commercially unviable, music. We meet Dennis in a Times Square pornographic booth as he tries to sneak in a quick, cheap nap. But a series of unfortunate events leaves Dennis beaten and passed out in Scotland. Stuck there with no cash, he has to save the deal with Universal despite alienating his staff, hiding his misadventure, and hating himself. Even though he is a misanthrope, he is also unexpectedly charming; Dennis befriends a pub owner (Margaret), two heritage workers, and
Eddie the Red Cap (goblin).
The Captain of Kinnoull Hill is a comedy about integrating two curmudgeons into society. Dennis is an amalgamation of everything people hate about hipster culture and his high-hipster tastes have left him isolated. Eddie the Red Cap is a recovering goblin; after years of murdering random victims and mopping up their blood with his cap, he is ready to
forfeit his magical powers and become a normal person. Dennis battles an overwhelming compulsion for condescension and narcissism, and Eddie, well, fights an instinctual craving for blood. Through a shared love of high culture, the two become fast friends and help one another
become sincere, caring humans. They also collaborate to rebuild the town’s crumbling castle – a tourist attraction vital to the economy – and to save Margaret’s pub that is threatened by her landlord McKee, who bullies the entire town with his posse of punks.
The Captain of Kinnoull Hill might be labelled a magical comedy. It combines self-loathing and dark humour with the ridiculous plot twists of classic comedy; Dennis’s drug abuse and Eddie’s magic integrate the archetypal twists and turns of Shakespearean comedy into a contemporary story. The challenges facing the characters are arbitrary due to the novel’s comedic structure; readers know that all of the problems will be solved, and happiness will reign. The strategy places the emphasis on witticisms and tomfoolery. Each scene becomes intrinsically rewarding because the plot is, more or less, irrelevant; Tennant transforms every moment into an opportunity for laughs. The Captain of Kinnoull Hill is an exceptional comedy due to its risk taking and novel application of contemporary and centuries-old comedy staples.”