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Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat: the Graphic Novel

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The dystopian Melbourne of 'Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat', pitched some short distance into the future, has the unique distinction of being the only city left in the world. And both Floyd and Laurel are on their last legs. Things are not going terribly well in terms of civil liberties, the political climate or the environment. In fact, things are comprehensively messed up o The dystopian Melbourne of 'Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat', pitched some short distance into the future, has the unique distinction of being the only city left in the world. And both Floyd and Laurel are on their last legs. Things are not going terribly well in terms of civil liberties, the political climate or the environment. In fact, things are comprehensively messed up on all fronts. This is an overcrowded, polluted metropolis groaning under the control of a government vested in corporate interests and busy herding non-conformists, misfits and the unhealthy into extramural death camps styled as “Hospitals”. Hardboiled noir soaks into sci-fi, humour and a touch of tragedy in this visual rejig of the critically lauded 2011 novel — with images constructed by author Bergen and daughter Cocoa — alongside the inclusion of new plot twists.


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The dystopian Melbourne of 'Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat', pitched some short distance into the future, has the unique distinction of being the only city left in the world. And both Floyd and Laurel are on their last legs. Things are not going terribly well in terms of civil liberties, the political climate or the environment. In fact, things are comprehensively messed up o The dystopian Melbourne of 'Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat', pitched some short distance into the future, has the unique distinction of being the only city left in the world. And both Floyd and Laurel are on their last legs. Things are not going terribly well in terms of civil liberties, the political climate or the environment. In fact, things are comprehensively messed up on all fronts. This is an overcrowded, polluted metropolis groaning under the control of a government vested in corporate interests and busy herding non-conformists, misfits and the unhealthy into extramural death camps styled as “Hospitals”. Hardboiled noir soaks into sci-fi, humour and a touch of tragedy in this visual rejig of the critically lauded 2011 novel — with images constructed by author Bergen and daughter Cocoa — alongside the inclusion of new plot twists.

30 review for Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat: the Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Patrick St-Amand

    The story is fast paced and tight, slightly tongue in cheek, witty, hard boiled but not overly so and a quirky dystopian backdrop. A very fun ride and I'll be seeking more by this author.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Josh Stallings

    Half way through this amazing book. Loving it wildy. Ok. finish this fun ride. What a joy of a read, it combines hard boiled and future dread into a wonderful stew. Chandler, Bladerunner, and completely original. It is a story of of loss and courage in the face of total despair. Andrez Bergen - Keep writing, I can't wait to see where you want to take us next.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

    This is a really entertaining noir tale set in a near-future Melbourne: our only city left, post-apocalypse. Blade Runner meets The Third Man is an apt description. Floyd, our hero, is a "seeker" who hunts down deviants and loves referencing old films (which receive their own appendix) — this is a very clever thing, setting a nostalgic character in the future, making his references more relatable to the reader. He's burnt out on the job, alcoholic, and feels trapped because of his wife's "medical This is a really entertaining noir tale set in a near-future Melbourne: our only city left, post-apocalypse. Blade Runner meets The Third Man is an apt description. Floyd, our hero, is a "seeker" who hunts down deviants and loves referencing old films (which receive their own appendix) — this is a very clever thing, setting a nostalgic character in the future, making his references more relatable to the reader. He's burnt out on the job, alcoholic, and feels trapped because of his wife's "medical" bills (she was tagged as a deviant). He becomes a reluctant media darling, and tries to get at the heart of the political corruption in his city. I loved the book's blend of Japanese and Australian culture. The setting is grounded in realism and doesn't get too hung up on technology, more just like extrapolations of our current lives and social stratification. Cosmetic enhancements, advertising ubiquity, gentrification, high-end shopping communities, etc. There's lots of Aussie and gumshoe slang, assisted by a glossary, which you may well not need, so natural is it. The writing is very fluid, though it may seem a bit dense at first until you get your head wrapped around what all's going on. Much of the book is dialogue, and I found some of it too direct in spots. Though this is also true of a lot of classic noir as well. This is the July 2011 selection in the ChuckPalahniuk.net book club, and you'll find more discussion there.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Minerva

    This was a fun read. I liked it a lot. BUT They're not lying when they say this book is filled to the brim with movie references. It really is. So much so, that as a reader, I felt a bit isolated in the beginning. However, the reference dropping does slow down a lot after the first couple of pages and no longer distracting. There's also, as someone mentioned before, a handy glossary at the end of the book that explains all the references. It's quite impressive. I look forward to reading more fro This was a fun read. I liked it a lot. BUT They're not lying when they say this book is filled to the brim with movie references. It really is. So much so, that as a reader, I felt a bit isolated in the beginning. However, the reference dropping does slow down a lot after the first couple of pages and no longer distracting. There's also, as someone mentioned before, a handy glossary at the end of the book that explains all the references. It's quite impressive. I look forward to reading more from the author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rory Costello

    Dystopia has never been so jaunty and wisecracking! This is quick-paced fun that will make you think of various different stories. Yes, the Blade Runner parallels are inevitable, but now that I've finished, I'll stand by my early impression: there's a definite Thomas Pynchon vibe here. The hero's name, the presence of a character called V., the playful tone, the deep love of pop culture, the skewed approach...all are akin to Pynchon. But that's not to say "Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat" is any k Dystopia has never been so jaunty and wisecracking! This is quick-paced fun that will make you think of various different stories. Yes, the Blade Runner parallels are inevitable, but now that I've finished, I'll stand by my early impression: there's a definite Thomas Pynchon vibe here. The hero's name, the presence of a character called V., the playful tone, the deep love of pop culture, the skewed approach...all are akin to Pynchon. But that's not to say "Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat" is any kind of knockoff. It has its own sensibility.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Ross

    Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a near-future, dystopian, homage to 1940s(ish) film noir, and reads with the smooth confidence of those very detectives. And, I've got One Hundred Years of Vicissitude queued up to read soon. Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a near-future, dystopian, homage to 1940s(ish) film noir, and reads with the smooth confidence of those very detectives. And, I've got One Hundred Years of Vicissitude queued up to read soon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I read 'Tobacco-stained Mountain Goat' nearly a week ago in a single sitting, yet haven't felt particularly inclined to write a review. It's one of the obscure books that have been on my to read list for nearly a decade, presumably because the title and blurb intrigued me at some point. I finally found a copy on eBay not long ago. After all those years, it proved to be rather underwhelming. The concept is eye-catching: after an unspecified apocalypse, Melbourne is the only city left. Floyd Maqui I read 'Tobacco-stained Mountain Goat' nearly a week ago in a single sitting, yet haven't felt particularly inclined to write a review. It's one of the obscure books that have been on my to read list for nearly a decade, presumably because the title and blurb intrigued me at some point. I finally found a copy on eBay not long ago. After all those years, it proved to be rather underwhelming. The concept is eye-catching: after an unspecified apocalypse, Melbourne is the only city left. Floyd Maquina, the protagonist and narrator, is a Seeker, basically a cop pretending to be a private eye. He is obsessed with vintage noir films and emulates the hard drinking, laconic ways of a Phillip Marlowe. However, the book did not really work for me as a post-apocalyptic noir pastiche. It was heavily referential, without being sharp or self-aware enough to seem truly satirical. Crucially, Floyd is not an independent private detective, choosing which cases to pursue. Instead, he's an enforcer for a totalitarian regime. He has a dead wife and a casual girlfriend, of course. The relationship with his sister was less of a cliche, although it didn't get as much attention. Although there were some interesting world-building details and, spoilers, an actual goat does appear, I didn't feel the full potential of the scenario was realised. Futuristic technologies, oppressive politics, and the mystery of how Melbourne survived in the first place are all pushed into the background by Floyd's self-destructive personal narrative. Unfortunately, he just isn't as interesting or charming as his noir heroes. It was a little annoying to be told by the book that this guy is likeable, while his thoughts and actions made him come off as a bit of an asshole. Thus I found the plot rather slow-paced when it followed him through a series of drinking sessions. When it got going, though, I was interested and did like how events were tidily wrapped up at the end. Overall, it wasn't as weird and memorable as I hoped, albeit still worth reading. I've been somewhat disappointed with post-apocalyptic noir pastiches before; The Dewey Decimal System also falls into this very specific category.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ctgt

    So this title has been floating around on my Kindle for some time and I've been in a crime/noir mood lately and this seemed to fit in, but I must say this is a difficult book to categorize. Part noir, part Blade Runner with some humor thrown in for good measure. So right away there is a list of appendices: The Encyclopedia Tobacciana- Complete personage and media reference guide The Tobacco-Stained Glossary- Slang, jargon and foreign word definitions Post-Floydian Adventures- Hardboiled recommendati So this title has been floating around on my Kindle for some time and I've been in a crime/noir mood lately and this seemed to fit in, but I must say this is a difficult book to categorize. Part noir, part Blade Runner with some humor thrown in for good measure. So right away there is a list of appendices: The Encyclopedia Tobacciana- Complete personage and media reference guide The Tobacco-Stained Glossary- Slang, jargon and foreign word definitions Post-Floydian Adventures- Hardboiled recommendations For me, that's a good start. We meet Floyd Maquina who lives in Melbourne, only not the Melbourne you Aussies are used to. The city is divided into 12 districts with the Dome at the center of the city and a subterranean Hospital zone. Floyd is a Seeker, a Deviant or Dev hunter who when not drinking or smoking(both of which are frowned upon in this new world order) is quite successful at bringing in living Devs, in fact he has only killed one Dev during all his Activities. Oh, one other thing about Floyd, he loves classic movies from the 30's and 40's. Among his inspirations: George Sanders who starred in The Saint series as well as The Ghost and Mrs. Muir The Maltese Falcon The Third Man The Thin Man The Big Sleep I'll throw some passages at you and if this still doesn't float your boat you might as well pack it in. "I grabbed Bullitt and sat back to indulge in a bit of gratuitous Steve McQueen action and rally driving round old San Francisco. But in the end, in spite of the shitty job he railed under, McQueen still appeared to get the woman. And that last scene in the movie-where, in silence, he sets his gun down and stares into the bathroom mirror-hit too close to home." "I was absentmindedly tugging at my right ear. Wasn't that something Bogart used to do-? Bloody hell. I had to inject some originality into my remaining days." "Take it like a man, I heard Bogie's voice demand in the back of my head, and for the life of me I couldn't remember which film that was from. Don't play it like a weak sister." Enough of this.....go read the book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    M.l. Sawyer

    Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen for me, is the most unique story I have read for some time. Not because of the post-apocalyptic theme, but because of the style of writing. For me, I’m a fan of movies like Tank Girl (classic) and Sin City. To enjoy this novel, you need to not only have a sense of humour, but you need to appreciate movies in order to get many of the references used. This is not a bad thing as it is what keeps the story unique. (If you don’t get all the references, th Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen for me, is the most unique story I have read for some time. Not because of the post-apocalyptic theme, but because of the style of writing. For me, I’m a fan of movies like Tank Girl (classic) and Sin City. To enjoy this novel, you need to not only have a sense of humour, but you need to appreciate movies in order to get many of the references used. This is not a bad thing as it is what keeps the story unique. (If you don’t get all the references, there is also an easy read set of references and slang dictionary included) Anyway, you’re in Melbourne, the last city in the world and your main character is Floyd who, though lack of choice, is employed as a Seeker – someone who picks up deviants when told so that they can be ‘relocated… never to be seen again. As you go through the story, Floyd slowly begins to realise that he has known what he is doing is wrong for some time, that there is something wrong with the whole system and that somehow, he might actually be able to do something about it… It takes some time to be able to piece together the whole story of what’s going on, but once I did, I really became involved in the story and from there, all I can say is that I was very, very satisfied with the end. This story is available from http://www.anothersky.org/in-print/to... as well as other distributors. Well done for being different Andrez.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Neliza Drew

    Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a weird book. It's also a good book. And it can be a confusing book if you don't know all the film references (there's a glossary of sorts in you get too lost, but even for someone who doesn't watch movies, the important references are clear enough unless you've been living too far off the grid. The setting is futuristic, but like the best dystopian visions, it's grounded enough in current human behaviors, obsessions, and weaknesses to seem familiar. The narrator, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a weird book. It's also a good book. And it can be a confusing book if you don't know all the film references (there's a glossary of sorts in you get too lost, but even for someone who doesn't watch movies, the important references are clear enough unless you've been living too far off the grid. The setting is futuristic, but like the best dystopian visions, it's grounded enough in current human behaviors, obsessions, and weaknesses to seem familiar. The narrator, Floyd, is a Seeker which is a sort of government agent tasked with whisking away the supposed Deviants in order to keep civilization perfect and safe and happy. Except, it's not, and they aren't and nothing else is what it seems either. Well, the rain. That's acid and gross. If nothing else, read it for the stabs at our own modern society. And for the goat.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Nelson

    Barring unforseen events, I'll be writing my review tomorrow; it should be available at http://reviews.futurefire.net sometime thereafter. Update 12-1-11: Sometimes after a book has had time to stew in my brain, I adjust how many stars I've given it according to how well it's stuck with me. I've just bumped this one up from three to four stars. Barring unforseen events, I'll be writing my review tomorrow; it should be available at http://reviews.futurefire.net sometime thereafter. Update 12-1-11: Sometimes after a book has had time to stew in my brain, I adjust how many stars I've given it according to how well it's stuck with me. I've just bumped this one up from three to four stars.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Todd Bristow

    Terrific read! It's rare to read a post apocalyptic story where the apocalypse doesn't matter. Put Sam Spade in the last city on Earth with wit, satire, intrigue, and fantastic world building and you have a terrific yarn. The more pop culture in your head, the better the book,but there's a handy reference guide if you hit a film or icon with which you're not familiar. Brilliant!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nina Phunsta

    Andrez kindly provided a sneak preview of the unfinished manuscript -- 90% done, he said -- and this proved an incredible journey, a pictorially shocking, rough-hewn, hard-boiled end-of-the-world saga that was somehow touching.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Booked podcast

    Listen to our full review: http://www.bookedpodcast.com/2012/02/... Listen to our full review: http://www.bookedpodcast.com/2012/02/...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mihai Adascalitei

    Cut to Melbourne, Australia–the most glamorous city in the world. It also happens to be the only one left standing, but nevermind that, we’re there now and I’d like you to meet your narrator, a certain Floyd Maquina, a likable chap with one hell of a story to share. See, the powers that be are knuckling down on the Deviant menace that plagues the city, and our boy Floyd’s unknowingly got himself in the thick of it. Cue guns, intrigue, kidnappings, conspiracy and all sorts of general mayhem that Cut to Melbourne, Australia–the most glamorous city in the world. It also happens to be the only one left standing, but nevermind that, we’re there now and I’d like you to meet your narrator, a certain Floyd Maquina, a likable chap with one hell of a story to share. See, the powers that be are knuckling down on the Deviant menace that plagues the city, and our boy Floyd’s unknowingly got himself in the thick of it. Cue guns, intrigue, kidnappings, conspiracy and all sorts of general mayhem that make for cracking good headlines. Does Floyd stop the bad guys? Does he get the girl? Does he make Humphrey Bogart proud? Grab some popcorn and read on. Bookshops seem to be one of the endangered species of nowadays. It saddens me, more so since I love walking the bookshops’ aisles in search of new books, be them written by familiar and dear writers or by the new, waiting to be discovered, authors. And when a reader finds himself faced with a name that is a mystery at the time of the search the cover is one of the things that attract, however the book titles are not to be neglected. This was the case with “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”, although the search did not take place in a physical bookshop, a title that allured me towards Andrez Bergen’s debut novel and pushed it on my reading table. Of course, that was only the initial impact, the promise of a dystopian tale with noir influences were the elements that presented the case of Andrez Bergen’s “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” with more power when it came to reasoning the reading of the novel. Post-apocalyptic fiction can be seen as a genre on itself. With the news feeds presenting our world as in brink of collapse it is a popular trend too, but not often the settings of these stories are diverse. However, “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” takes place in Melbourne, the only city in the wide world surviving an apocalyptic event. Why the world as we know it came to an end is a question that remains unanswered, as it is left the one of why Melbourne is the only standing metropolis following this catastrophe. But looking over the story of the novel these questions can be rendered easily rather personal curiosity and they held no importance for the development of the plot. These are only events that led to the present lived in “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” and together with assembling pieces create the setting of the story. An interesting setting, a society that did not die completely with the apocalyptic event, but continued its existence in an adapted form, keeping however plenty of its original features. The economic and political system and the social stratification adopt the characteristics of the new reality and not for the better. The society doesn’t seem to be willing to recover from the events that led it to the present situation, but on the contrary it appears to be nihilistic to the point of seeking its own total destruction. Because Andrez Bergen takes this approach with the setting of his novel the reader has an accessible way to relate with a society that although futuristic keeps plenty of elements of the surrounding existence. One of the surviving humans is Floyd Maquina, who haunts the land – to be read Melbourne – in search of deviants after his sick wife’s outrageous expensive medical bills has forced him to take a job as a Seeker. Not exactly a voluntary private investigator Floyd Maquina is obsessed with old movies and alcohol, both close to the point of addictiveness if that was not already passed. Possessed by his past, tormented by the present and with only the faintest shimmer of future in sight Floyd Maquina is not what can be called a hero. A hard-boiled detective that to a certain point encompasses the tropes built by the noir movies and novels he often quotes and mention, but with a unique voice and witty language and remarks. Sometimes all the references made can seem to be tiresome, but put on the obsessive nature of the character with old movies it can be passed easily. I believe that Floyd Maquina is a tribute brought by Andrez Bergen to his influences, but without making the character a mindless offering and losing its originality. With the setting and character properly introduced the only thing left to be discovered is the plot. Which fails to happen for about two thirds of “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”. I know, it sounds bad. But don’t let the appearances mislead you, it only sounds worse than it actually is. Plot elements are included into the story from early on, but only when the entire intrigue is revealed they make their presence felt. Threads appear to be loose, almost every one holding a little story on themselves, but only when weaved together in the final part of the novel revealing the entire design. It would seem that Andrez Bergen fails to put them together in a proper manner, but in fact he carefully arranges them, taking his time and letting the reader savor the built-up. Quirky dialogue, amusing lines and familiar references are mixed with an assured and mature use of language and canny slang to give the reader a measure of entertainment necessary for what would seem for a while a directionless plot. But when the story hits, it hits hard and in full swing. Action blooms unexpectedly and ends in the perfect manner leaving the reader fully satisfied. Read the novel twice and the experience is enhanced. “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” might not have the action often seen in post-apocalyptic fiction or the adventures of the noir novels, but it is original and unforgettable. It has the needed quality to help it stand the passing of time. And in the style of the cult cinematography mentions encountered in its pages I see “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” becoming a cult movie too if someday technology makes it possible for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to play in a production directed by Ridley Scott. I am not sure if the future holds something like this but I am certain that Andrez Bergen has enough talent to offers us again some remarkable novels such as “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A.

    Andrez Bergen’s Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (TSMG) is set in a post-apocalyptic Melbourne, Australia at an unspecified point in the future where the fortunate ones live an opulent life secure under the high tech Dome which encases the city. The less fortunate live a harsh existence in rundown areas on the outskirts of the Dome in a world where the sun seldom shines and acid rain seems to fall endlessly. Our narrator, Floyd Maquina, is a Seeker. Employed by the government to hunt down so-called Andrez Bergen’s Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (TSMG) is set in a post-apocalyptic Melbourne, Australia at an unspecified point in the future where the fortunate ones live an opulent life secure under the high tech Dome which encases the city. The less fortunate live a harsh existence in rundown areas on the outskirts of the Dome in a world where the sun seldom shines and acid rain seems to fall endlessly. Our narrator, Floyd Maquina, is a Seeker. Employed by the government to hunt down so-called Deviants for what is euphemistically called “hospitalization,” Floyd has the authority to terminate those who won’t come along peacefully. It’s something he’s only had to do once, but that encounter weighs heavily on his mind, driving him to seek comfort in drugs, alcohol, and classic Hollywood films. Indeed, Floyd peppers his narrative with copious references to films like The Maltese Falcon, The Third Man, The Big Sleep, and Brazil amongst others, and throws enough hardboiled slang around that a Tobacco-Stained Glossary and Encyclopedia Tobacciana are included as appendices. With one foot planted firmly in a futuristic world where Seekers routinely undergo Matrix-like virtual reality “tests” to ensure they are still in the fold and capable of carrying out company orders, TSMG manages to simultaneously have its other foot rooted in an authentic, throwback, hardboiled detective vibe. And it is in that fuzzy blending of post-apocalyptic and old-school noir that TSMG carves out what is one of the most wonderfully unique books I’ve had the pleasure to read. Along the way author Andrez Bergen works in clever jabs and astute commentary on everything from reality shows (Floyd finds himself an unwitting TV star when thrust front and center in a Dog the Bounty Hunter type show) to media manipulation by corporations and the government (that “reality” show being a carefully scripted and edited attempt to control public opinion about Deviants) to our obsession with cosmetic perfection (people in TSMG routinely get surgical enhancement, including photosynthetic technology which allows them to swap out lip, eye, skin and hair color with thousands of available shades), while the conflict between the Deviants and the citizens inside the Dome serves as a rather timely exploration of the social upheaval that results when the economic gulf between classes becomes a seemingly unbridgeable chasm. TSMG is not for everyone, there’s no way around that. Some will find the film references too frequent and, if you’re not familiar with the movies, potentially confusing. But if you’re willing to roll with them – or to put the handy Encyclopedia Tobacciana to good use – I think you’ll find they actually add a verisimilitude to Floyd’s character, going a long way toward explaining how he copes and makes his way through a world he often finds as foreign as the reader does. In any event, I can say without qualification that not only is Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat one of my Top 5 reads of 2011, it is one of the most creative and engaging books I’ve ever read. Period.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Something very strange happened to me recently. I loved a book, thoroughly enjoyed reading it, couldn't put it down at points, and still have absolutely no idea what the hell was going on. None whatsoever. Post-apocalyptic Melbourne again. Not my favourite place at all, although in TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT we don't seem to be too far in the future, and we don't seem to be that far from current day Melbourne, particularly in the way the city is divided into the have's and the have nots. The d Something very strange happened to me recently. I loved a book, thoroughly enjoyed reading it, couldn't put it down at points, and still have absolutely no idea what the hell was going on. None whatsoever. Post-apocalyptic Melbourne again. Not my favourite place at all, although in TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT we don't seem to be too far in the future, and we don't seem to be that far from current day Melbourne, particularly in the way the city is divided into the have's and the have nots. The division is by way of the Dome - uptown paradise where rampant consumerism and mindless bullshit rules (doesn't sound all that far-fetched does it...). Outside the Dome we're talking dangerous, run down, mean streets, bars, fast food, and nasty goings on (another tick in the not that difficult to believe column). Populate the place with Deviants and Seekers who keep them in line, add a central hero that's a chain-smoking, loud mouthed smart arse with a drinking habit and a surprisingly touching reason for doing the job, and frankly, I was in lunacy heaven. What really works in TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT is the characterisations, as well as some very funny and mad storytelling. I suspect you're going to get even more than I did from this book if you're in any way a follower of popular culture on TV and in films. Ask me before reading this book and I'd have told you I'm really not into post-apocalyptic scenarios. I'm also not a follower of popular culture and certainly not science fiction, yet somehow even I managed to notice the Blade Runner references in this book.... But honestly, didn't care I had no idea what was going on. Didn't care it's not the sort of book I'd normally read. Don't even care that I'm not even sure if it was crime fiction. It's definitely a thriller, and it's somewhere in the Science Fiction realm... probably. I'd guess. Honestly - no idea. Did I mention I loved it, did I mention I've got no idea what the hell was going on.... http://www.austcrimefiction.org/revie...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Heath Lowrance

    there’s some remarkable genre cross-over going on here, a sort of noir-ish flair rubbing up against a dystopian, Philip K. Dick bleakness. I was worried that Bergen, as a writer entirely new to me, wouldn’t be able to sustain the charm and solid writing in TSMG’s earliest pages, but I needn’t have worried. The man’s imagination is vivid and consistent, and his love of old films (woven so nicely throughout the story) will appeal to anyone who grew up watching Bogart flicks.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ystyn Francis

    Great title aside, this is a unique little debut novel in the Australian crime/sci-fi mould. The futuristic Melbourne setting was creative, but the narrative never really grabbed me. That having been said, the book is so chock full of film and pop culture references that I almost want to read it again to highlight all those that I missed. Definitely worth the look.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Review can be found here: http://www.memyshelfandi.com/2011/05/... Review can be found here: http://www.memyshelfandi.com/2011/05/...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert Beveridge

    Andrez Bergen, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (Another Sky Press, 2011) Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher (long enough ago that I'm embarrassed to admit it). Review tagline: Deus ex Maquina: The Goats of War The biggest drawback to Andrez Bergen's sci-fi-noir mystery Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat is that it relies on one of the mystery genre's most annoying artificial constructs: the repressed memory. Whenever I see repressed memory pop up as a plotlin Andrez Bergen, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (Another Sky Press, 2011) Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher (long enough ago that I'm embarrassed to admit it). Review tagline: Deus ex Maquina: The Goats of War The biggest drawback to Andrez Bergen's sci-fi-noir mystery Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat is that it relies on one of the mystery genre's most annoying artificial constructs: the repressed memory. Whenever I see repressed memory pop up as a plotline without some sort of external agent to facilitate memory loss (a fancy way of saying “you drugged your character, beat him about the head, or both”), it is always, and nakedly, a device that is used for the sole purpose of keeping the reader in the dark about a crucial piece of the plot. That might not be an awful thing were “repressed memory syndrome” an actual disease rather than something that got made up by opportunists during the Satanic Panic scare of the seventies and eighties (“repressed memory syndrome” was the main mechanism behind the bogus accusations against the McMartin workers and their families). It is not a real condition, but it has caused real harm. Please, authors, stop using it. Which is bad, because after a rocky first twenty pages or so, Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat found its voice and kind of soared. It's noir, so there's nothing in here that's terribly unpredictable if you've read enough pulp noir or seen enough forties and fifties thrillers to have a basic grasp of noir plot structure, but it's not really about the destination, is it? Scott Campbell's wonderful cover art does not prepare you for the trip that you are about to take. Looking at the book's cover, you might get the idea that Floyd Maquina is an urbane, cultured, cloven-hoofed sort of chap who sips martinis and, James Bond-like, solves mysteries in his spare time. Instead, Floyd is a member of Seeker Branch, the government-controlled covert operations branch where, it would seem, the old world's washed-up PIs ended up. Not that Floyd started out as a washed-up PI. He had a good, reasonable life, and he used to do something productive. (We are never told what, but I got the idea he was some sort of nameless, faceless office drone.) But then his wife Veronica got sick. In the hyper-Darwinian world of post-apocalyptic Melbourne, the last city on a blasted Earth that has suffered some sort of horrible ecological disaster that has turned the rain into acid and the dirt into a wasteland, getting sick classes you as a Deviant, and you get Relocated to a Hospital (all terms with initial caps in the book), where another branch of the government “treats” you. Veronica got sick three years ago. Floyd visited her in the Hospital a few times and got to see government “treatment” firsthand. How effective is it? He stopped going to see his wife. Enter Seeker Branch. Hospital bills are expensive, so the government offered Floyd a job as a Seeker, with a fat salary that would cover those bills and leave him a little at the end of the month. What else could he do? The irony of the situation is that Seekers exist in order to track, ferret out, and turn in (or kill, if the need arises) Deviants. Thus, Floyd has turned into an alcoholic wreck who can't stand his job and refuses to watch his wife die slowly. His only friends are fellow outcasts—Nina “Laurel” Canyon, a fellow Seeker who never takes off her elbow-length gloves; Colman, a former University professor who has turned to dealing drugs for a living; Anthony, the opposition leader of one of Australia's last two cricket clubs, whose matches are as real as professional wrestling. As we open, Floyd is on an Activities (the term Seeker Branch uses for Deviant tracking and apprehension). Or is he? No, turns out it's a nightmare, the same one he's been having for weeks, about an Activities that he knows went horribly wrong, but about which he remembers nothing. Seeker Branch's version of employee counseling is the Test, a virtual-reality world they drug you and throw you into for such wide-ranging activities as counseling, on-the-job training, interviews, you name it. Floyd's taskmasters, we soon find out, are cruel indeed—more so than the usual government cutouts that populate novels like this. So what's the big question I put at the end of every synopsis? I'm not sure you can ask just one. (The jacket copy gives you a veritable smorgasbord.) What happened on that Activities? Can Floyd, who is still in the process of losing the love of his life to a terminal illness and an even more terminal medical system, find love with Laurel? What the hell is up with that title? (Floyd has a thing for old movies, and we find out eventually that it's a quote from an old comedy he is especially fond of.) Do the Cricketing Police really exist? Can plastic really replace real teeth? Will Floyd drink himself to death before he gets fired? Is Ben Wheatley going to direct the film adaptation of this? (Because that would be rad.) If you can get past the repressed-memory thing, there's a great deal to enjoy here. This probably goes double if you're a movie buff, because Floyd frames everything in terms of old movies. (And wait till you get to the last page. I actually laughed out loud.) I wouldn't exactly call Floyd stereotypical, he's too much of a real person for that, but there is definitely an archetype thing going on there. Everyone around him, though, is Bergen playing with those archetypes and doing as much as he can to pervert them. This has the (possibly intended) side effect of heightening Floyd's everyman status. That may grate on some readers. It didn't on me; as much as Floyd is kind of unlikable, it endeared me to him a great deal. Be aware that, as always, YMMV. The pace is pretty straight noir; Bergen pauses now and again for some worldbuilding, and as I have mentioned the opener is a bit rocky (I think I had to get used to the way the book handles dreams), but otherwise things move along at a good clip, with new bits of plot unveiled fairly regularly. I wanted to go into some of those above, but it seemed like we'd be getting into spoiler territory there. Also on the upside: it's obvious that Bergen has a lot to say about government-run healthcare, environmental issues, the role of the multinational corporation, etc. (it would be a bit cheeky of me to speculate there's at least one jab at Land of the Dead in this book as well, but if the shoe fits...), but Bergen is the best writer I have come across in recent memory at not letting any of that stuff get in the way of a good story. He trusts his readers enough to get it, which so many author's don't. And that almost makes up for the repressed memory stuff. I'll let you in on a secret: it is very, very rare that I start a review without knowing what the book's rating is going to be. I don't believe it's ever happened that I have gotten to the final paragraph without knowing, but I was pretty darn close on this one. This is a fantastic little book that has an eight-hundred-pound Deviant sitting in its foyer. If you can squeeze past that, then I can't recommend this book highly enough. But it's a pretty tight fit, so I am far more reserved than usual, and because of that, I'm kind of splitting the difference and then leaning upwards a bit. ***

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark Webb

    Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen is a post-apocalypse, noir novel set in a dystopian future Melbourne, Australia. Some kind of environmental disaster has rendered most of the world uninhabitable and somehow Melbourne is the only remaining city on Earth. Why Melbourne has been spared is never fully documented, but as a result there are nearly 20,000,000 people living in a world of acid rain, food shortages and general misery (except for those lucky (read rich) few that live in "The Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen is a post-apocalypse, noir novel set in a dystopian future Melbourne, Australia. Some kind of environmental disaster has rendered most of the world uninhabitable and somehow Melbourne is the only remaining city on Earth. Why Melbourne has been spared is never fully documented, but as a result there are nearly 20,000,000 people living in a world of acid rain, food shortages and general misery (except for those lucky (read rich) few that live in "The Dome", a sealed, climate controlled space covering the middle of the old CBD). Floyd is a Seeker, a man forced by circumstance and enormous hospital bills for his dying wife to chase down "Deviants" and send them for Relocation. While Seekers are authorised to kill Deviants if necessary, he has managed to avoid doing so for most of his career. As the novel opens we find out that Floyd's death-free record has come to an end, and the guilt is driving him down a self destructive road (with mild amnesia thrown in). The novel chronicles an increasingly complex series of encounters as Floyd tries to remember why he killed the Deviant and deal with an increasingly hysterical public pressure to do something about the Deviant threat once and for all. It is an interesting premise to the book and I liked the setting. The slowly crumbling infrastructure of a decaying outer Melbourne surrounding a pristine CBD where the tram just runs back and forth between a few inner city stops for the convenience of the uber-wealthy was well described and realised. I was interested in how you could sustain a city that large (current Melbourne infrastructure would struggle with such a big influx of people) when the rest of the world doesn't exist anymore (food production etc), which is never really explained but there are some hints through the book that perhaps the outside world isn't exactly how Floyd thinks it is. Mr Bergen explores some topical ideas around the use of media manipulation to twist public perceptions to gain political advantage, with comment on everything from the impact of tight editing on what the public ends up seeing through to the use of "Cops" style reality TV shows to shape world view. The novel goes for a Bladerunner style vibe - hard boiled detective/private investigator in a harsh, urban future. The constant presence of rain also adds to this effect. Floyd is a film buff, and the story is peppered with references to specific films and using those references to help frame the story and setting. As someone only vaguely familiar with the films discussed, I found those passages that relied heavily on the references a little difficult to follow. However, I suspect someone more intimately knowledgable about the noir film genre would really enjoy that aspect of the book. It took me a while to get through the novel, with quite a few stops and starts over the last couple of weeks. With some dream like sequences (the Seeker organisation have a virtual reality style testing ground), there were a few abrupt transitions that through me off track a little. There were a few excellent sections of the book, but sometimes they didn't seem to gel together very well. I've read in a few places that as a new author you should try and cut at least 10% out of your first draft to really tighten up the pace of the story. The novel could have done with some of that style of reduction through the editing process I think - some of the sections repeated ideas and concepts that had already been gotten across earlier in the book. Floyd was depicted as a man letting his life slide out of control and that came over well. However, his motivations swung quite widely chapter to chapter and I found that this, along with some of the dialog, lent an air of incoherence that I couldn't quite get into. I loved the aesthetic of the artwork and chapter layout. It lent an art-deco style feel to the work which seemed very in line with the atmosphere the author was going for. I came across this book when the author sent me an electronic copy version via email. It was free, but if you go to the publishers website (Another Sky Press) you see that anyone is able to get an electronic copy for free. They work on a "neo-patronage" model, where they provide books at cost (physical) or for free (electronic) and then ask readers to donate to the author if they like the book. An interesting model, will be interesting to see if they can sustain it. I suspect that this model requires authors to do a lot of their own promotion (hence the email from Mr Bergen), but then again authors are being asked to do that a lot now anyway! Overall, I think this was an interesting premise reasonably executed with perhaps some tightening up required during the editing phase. But here is the real test - did I actually donate any money to the author once I'd finished the book? I'm pleased to say that I did become a neo-patron this morning. I certainly felt I was entertained enough to pay at least the same kind of money I pay for a lot of Kindle books on Amazon. I also reviewed this book on my website.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Hill

    “Every goddamned thing about this Test grated. And let’s be honest here: ‘grated’ is just the wrong word to use. Maybe ‘vexed’ is better? I always liked the sound of ‘vexed.’ It was comfortingly old-school, like something that someone in a Jane Austen adaptation would utter, in a steely British accent, after he mopped his brow, post particularly energetic fox hunt.” Many people grapple with what the term neo-noir is. Andrez Bergen’s debut wraps up the definition in a nice little bow and amazing s “Every goddamned thing about this Test grated. And let’s be honest here: ‘grated’ is just the wrong word to use. Maybe ‘vexed’ is better? I always liked the sound of ‘vexed.’ It was comfortingly old-school, like something that someone in a Jane Austen adaptation would utter, in a steely British accent, after he mopped his brow, post particularly energetic fox hunt.” Many people grapple with what the term neo-noir is. Andrez Bergen’s debut wraps up the definition in a nice little bow and amazing story. His prose, like any good writer, is to die for. Verbose. Not repetitive at all. While heavy at times with a lot of introspection and general details, it fits the story. It works to set up a dark and dank dystopia called Melbourne. And it helps create the bleak nature to his novel as he points to the atrocities of this totalitarian state. Could it be cut down to improve the pacing? Yes. But would it have the same effect? Probably not. “’So you want something old and dusty, then?’ ‘Honey, occasionally the past isn’t as dry as some people think—and, let’s face it, dust adds depth.’” The opening is a tad confusing. I’ll make that clear for anybody who’s put off by it. Bergen throws a ton of cultural references and world-building at you all in one swing. It’s bogged down by a massive internal monologue, but the reflection fits and is oh so noirish. Do not be dissuaded by chapter one. It improves from there. But the pop references don’t lighten. There may be a glossary at the end, and I may have known most of the name drops, but that still probably won’t startle the casual reader. There’s depth to this novel if you’re looking for it. Bergen plays off of a lot of the hardboiled novels of the 30s along with the noir movie counterparts of the 60s. Even if you don’t get them, the dialogue (and humor inserted in there) is enough to continue. “All of it came across like a religious diorama recast by Jean-Pierre Jeunet on bad acid.” One thing that is defining Bergen is his brilliant usage of dialogue. Conversations flow effortlessly. While there are the first-time kinks around, such as entire conversations without dialogue tags, his banter between the characters is spot on. Top notch. Other reviewing clichés. He writes some of the best wit I’ve read, shoved right alongside Daniel Polansky, Richard Kadrey, and Scott Lynch. Yes, this was a writer to watch out for. But now, with a third book out (and amazing) I would say Bergen has solidified his standing as a genre melding author who’s pushing the boundaries while at the same time having so much fun. Even in the bright pockets of humor, there pervades a bleak tone. This novel can be depressing at times. Heart strings are pulled at. Our emotions are moved. It’s a strong thing to do in under 300 pages. Usually, you have to have a good bit of character development, but from the first page, a lot of the cast feels natural. This is noted from Bergen’s influence in Hammett and Chandler. The narrator is a Seeker (PI) just trying to eke out a living and pay the medical bills of his wife. But things take a turn for the worse when he kills a young girl, a Deviant, his first employed murder. Things spiral out of control soon after, and we are shown the murder through choppy, surreal dream sequences that spring up in random moments. It can be jarring at first, but rewarding when the pace begins to drag. Mysteries are brought to the light, and twists come out of nowhere. One in particular is flipped at the end of a chapter, truly stunning. Bergen channels a brutal vein, giving way to death and darkness aplenty. “Tomorrow. Ashita. Manana. In all three cases, it meant ignoring today’s responsibilities.” All this amazingness is brought down by the lack of a coherent plot for half the novel. Yes, it takes the staple of noir lines where the mystery is center and turns that into a rambling literary fiction story. Some readers, like with the movie references, will be against this certain take. I found it natural, adding to the character study of our protagonist. The ending is abrupt. That’s one complaint; Bergen has a habit of doing this, slicing the narrative off to discombobulate the mind, so to say. It’s an aspect of noir writing, to end off key. But I don’t care much for it. A one page denouement would’ve been fine. Instead, the kindle edition plays with your head, stops the story at 75 percent. Was it that big of a problem? No, but one nonetheless. Bergen makes me want to read the next novel in his series that much quicker. This is what I’d like to call a comfort read. I know that from page one this is going to be my kind of book, whether it has flaws or not. All the stylistic choices of a noir novel were there. We have a formula in place with twists counteracting the known plotline. Sarcasm flows from the tongue, descriptions beautiful on every page, with the bonus of a character that you’ve already dealt with, but don’t mind. You enjoy his company. If this screams unoriginality, you’re wrong. This is one of the most speculative book I’ve read this year. Bergen takes the tropes of the 30s noir novels and integrates them into his own world, his spectacular setting, drawing it all in on one snappy breath. What more could I ask for? “’Dear world, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.’”

  24. 4 out of 5

    James

    I do not know anything about science fiction noir – beyond Riddley Scott’s Blade Runner. Of course I am talking about the original release which had the voice-over narration by Harrison Ford, not the plethora of director’s cuts and re-releases since 1982. I remember at the time, I actually tried to read Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep – which was the basis for the film Blade Runner. The thing is, science fiction isn’t really my bag, and I didn’t know what the hell was goin I do not know anything about science fiction noir – beyond Riddley Scott’s Blade Runner. Of course I am talking about the original release which had the voice-over narration by Harrison Ford, not the plethora of director’s cuts and re-releases since 1982. I remember at the time, I actually tried to read Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep – which was the basis for the film Blade Runner. The thing is, science fiction isn’t really my bag, and I didn’t know what the hell was going on – so I wandered away from that one, more than a little confused (it’s nothing like the film). However, hard-boiled detective fiction is something that I am familiar with, having read my share of Chandler, Spillane and Hammett. All of which are perfect preparatory tools to Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, which is a retro pop culturist’s dream come true – and fairly entertaining to boot. The story, which is set in Melbourne, Australia, some time in the future, concerns a fellow named Floyd, who, when his wife becomes ill and racks up extensive medical bills, is coerced into employment as a ‘Seeker’. And despite the Melbourne setting, being a ‘Seeker’ has nothing to do with singing ‘Georgy Girl’ or ‘The Carnival is Over’. A Seeker is a bit like a cop, and their job is to hunt down ‘Devs’ – Deviants. But unlike other Seekers, Floyd is not particularly trigger happy, and as the story begins, he has never killed a Dev in the execution of his duties – which makes him unique. Floyd hates his job, and sees the hypocrisy in the system he works for, and this eats away at him. To deal with it, he drinks, smokes and takes pills – all ceaselessly and immoderately. This kind of lifestyle leads to a blurred state of mind, part dream, part reality – but all, a living hell. Nearly all of his relationships end up bad, with both his love interest, a woman named ‘Laurel’ Canyon, being relocated (which is a polite way of saying she has been instutionalised as a suspected ‘Dev’), and a friend, a professional cricketer, taken away by the ‘Cricket Police’, for missing a training session. The world, or all that is left of it – which is Melbourne – is essentially a police state, and the only thing that stops Floyd from being carted away, is that he is one of the policiers – and even then he appears to be walking a tightrope. If your a fan of the series Department S (and why wouldn’t you be?), the chapter entitled ‘jack your kitsch up’ will delight you no end. Our hero, Floyd and his partner Hank, are preparing to go into Richmond area – which is now a no-go zone – to track down five heavily armed Devs. Along for the ride area television crew, to film the incursion. The television network covering this incursion is ITC. The reporter on the scene is a man named Montgomery Berman, the camera operator is Stew Sullivan and their assistant is a young girl called Anabelle. For those who don’t remember, Monty Berman was one of the creators of Department S (he was also a co-producer of The Saint, with Roger Moore). And in the series Department S, Stewart Sullivan was the name of the character played by Joel Fabiani, and Anabelle Hurst was played by Rosemary Nicols. You’re forgiven for not remembering Sullivan or Rosemary, as they were overshadowed by Peter Wyngarde as the flamboyant Jason King. This operation opens up a new world for Floyd. Once the footage of the operation is shown on TV, he becomes a minor celebrity, and he is promoted to being what is called an ‘Observer’. An Observer watches operations from the wings, with news crews gathered around – and Floyd is expected to comment on the operations for the news services. The villain of the piece is the head honcho for an evil big business conglomerate named Hylax – think ‘Big Brother’. His name is Wolram E. Deaps, which is an anagram of Marlowe Spade. Philip Marlowe being the battered hero in many of Raymond Chandler’s hard boiled mysteries, and Sam Spade being the hero of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Of course, both Marlowe and Spade were played by Humphrey Bogart in celebrated movies made in the 1940s. As I suggested earlier, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a retro pop culturist’s dream – and while that delighted me no end, and if you’ll forgive the self indulgence (and ego trip), I probably have watched and read more of the in-joke material referenced in the story than the majority of readers (and I am sure I missed some of the references). And therefore I would assume many other readers may find these references fly over their head, or at worst seem to be padding, or down right confusing. There is a glossary at the back, which outlines the many sources, but if you are not familiar with the source material to begin with, knowing its title, isn’t much good. Some of you are probably wondering about the title itself, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat? It’s a line lifted from the movie That Certain Feeling, starring Bob Hope, Eva Marie Saint, and George Sanders. In the film, Sanders refers to a dog as a ‘Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat’. So with that, I will leave it for you to decide. If you’re knowledgeable about George Sanders, Chandler, Bogart, Siamese Vodka, Hitchcock and more, then this may be the book you’re looking for. If not, you may find it confusing, and full of pointless chatter. I hope that makes sense?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sammy Smooth

    It was a fun story, but I really had the feeling that throughout the book, the only reason the author Bergen wrote it was to show off his knowledge of 1940s through 1970s detective films. Every other sentence felt like it was referencing, yet again, a film, actor, or director I had never heard of. Despite the "Encyclopedia Tobacciana" in the back, I had difficulties understanding some of the comparisons being drawn. I also didn't like the placement of the encyclopedia and glossary. They were bot It was a fun story, but I really had the feeling that throughout the book, the only reason the author Bergen wrote it was to show off his knowledge of 1940s through 1970s detective films. Every other sentence felt like it was referencing, yet again, a film, actor, or director I had never heard of. Despite the "Encyclopedia Tobacciana" in the back, I had difficulties understanding some of the comparisons being drawn. I also didn't like the placement of the encyclopedia and glossary. They were both one page after the end of the book, which made difficult not spoiling the book! Overall, a good story (although I had a difficult time rooting for an alcoholic drug addicted hero) with some mystery. I thought I had the ending pegged around page 30, but I was wrong, which was a nice surprise.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Post apocalyptic Melbourne is the place setting for this dystopian noir that's as much a homage to the great authors of noir as it is an ode to the pulp sci-fi futuristic storytelling greats. Floyd Maquina is a seeker, a kind of private investigator/secret law enforcement agency operative who is tasked with hunting down Deviants for the purpose of relocation and, if need be, termination. It's a job that conjures up images of equal parts Mike Hammer, and Minority Report (just more gritty and hard Post apocalyptic Melbourne is the place setting for this dystopian noir that's as much a homage to the great authors of noir as it is an ode to the pulp sci-fi futuristic storytelling greats. Floyd Maquina is a seeker, a kind of private investigator/secret law enforcement agency operative who is tasked with hunting down Deviants for the purpose of relocation and, if need be, termination. It's a job that conjures up images of equal parts Mike Hammer, and Minority Report (just more gritty and hard edged). Despite a smooth, smart mouthed, devil-may-care attitude, Floyd is not without his personal demons, having lost his wife and being haunted by his killing of a Deviant, his emotional perspective shifts to match each predicament he faces with each of those incidents paramount to his action/reaction. TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT is a fusion of cultures both true and fantastical depicted through veil of murder, deception, and uncertainty. It's unique and ambitious. The plot doesn't drive this novel, rather an intriguing cityscape, interesting cast of characters, and a world very much alive despite the perceived death. Read more on my blog: http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspo...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This is a big meaty hunk of book with a lot going for it, and a number of endearing characters, as well as a fun backdrop that's both familiar and foreign. The book stumbles from time to time, mostly during longer sections where characters we've come to like are dragged off-camera and their replacements are newcomers we haven't yet come to care much about. Some characters are explored more than others, some potentially not to satisfaction, and Floyd, as lovable and interesting as he is, is at hi This is a big meaty hunk of book with a lot going for it, and a number of endearing characters, as well as a fun backdrop that's both familiar and foreign. The book stumbles from time to time, mostly during longer sections where characters we've come to like are dragged off-camera and their replacements are newcomers we haven't yet come to care much about. Some characters are explored more than others, some potentially not to satisfaction, and Floyd, as lovable and interesting as he is, is at his best when he has the right characters to play off of. Unfortunately, this means that he doesn't get the chance to shine as much in the last third of the book, which leads to a few spots that bog down a bit more than they need to. But Floyd's up to the task, and does an admirable job of carrying things forward with copious personality and reluctant joie de vivre. In the end, the book is a solid read with a lot of fun, a lot of heart, and one of the more memorable narrators you're likely to come across. And if you're a film noir buff (or wish you were), this is pretty much required reading.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy Biddle

    I'm not a movie buff or a literary aficionado, but I appreciate a good story and I love a good premise. In Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat, the government has created drug-induced virtual reality games that are so powerful, a subject could die during a virtual fight. The government uses the simulations to train its soldiers, but these soldiers aren't Air Force pilots or Navy commanders, they are everyday men and women who have been coerced into service. And they aren't out to protect the citizens, I'm not a movie buff or a literary aficionado, but I appreciate a good story and I love a good premise. In Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat, the government has created drug-induced virtual reality games that are so powerful, a subject could die during a virtual fight. The government uses the simulations to train its soldiers, but these soldiers aren't Air Force pilots or Navy commanders, they are everyday men and women who have been coerced into service. And they aren't out to protect the citizens, they are trained to control them. The main character in Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat is a flawed human and an excellent soldier. He works for a corrupt government he hates so they will keep his wife alive in the hospital. In his post-apocalyptic world, the hospital isn't were people go to heal. It's where people disappear forever. Armed with nothing but sorrow and self-hatred, he stumbles drunkenly through the desolate world he lives in... Just go and read it already!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Different. Kind of Blade Runner meets the Maltese Falcon (film versions - as the main character and thus the book is deeply rooted in noir cinema). Until the very end I had no idea where this rating was going to go; this is one of those books where you know from the beginning that the decidedly suspect narrator is keeping important information from you and your whole view of events is going to keep shifting all the way to the final reveal. Fortunately Andrez doesn't disappoint. Although you do hav Different. Kind of Blade Runner meets the Maltese Falcon (film versions - as the main character and thus the book is deeply rooted in noir cinema). Until the very end I had no idea where this rating was going to go; this is one of those books where you know from the beginning that the decidedly suspect narrator is keeping important information from you and your whole view of events is going to keep shifting all the way to the final reveal. Fortunately Andrez doesn't disappoint. Although you do have to accept some things about the world and background that are not ever explained they are exactly that; background.

  30. 5 out of 5

    N.E. White

    Mr. Bergen’s first novel is a rambling story that, in the end, delivers a satisfying and surreal tale of redemption. Set in the distant future in a post-apocalyptic Melbourne, Australia, we meet Floyd Maquina, a drunk and down-trodden Seeker who manages to save the future from an even more dismal future despite spending more time passed-out that sober. If you like first-person narratives, and film noir and hardboiled literature of the early to mid-twentieth century, then you’ll like Mr. Bergen’s Mr. Bergen’s first novel is a rambling story that, in the end, delivers a satisfying and surreal tale of redemption. Set in the distant future in a post-apocalyptic Melbourne, Australia, we meet Floyd Maquina, a drunk and down-trodden Seeker who manages to save the future from an even more dismal future despite spending more time passed-out that sober. If you like first-person narratives, and film noir and hardboiled literature of the early to mid-twentieth century, then you’ll like Mr. Bergen’s Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. If not, then try it anyway. It may surprise you. Recommended. (full review will be posted to my blog soon)

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