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Plume Reviews

Plume by Will Wiles


Will Wiles

3.57 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Fourth Estate Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 16 May 2019
ISBN: 9780008194413

`Wiles is basically Kafka, if Kafka had spent more time in British hotels and pubs' David Baddiel Will Wiles both re-invents and murders the London novel, in a spectacular act of evil, surgical intensity' Warren Ellis

3 stars out of 5
19 May 2019

"[a] sparky if flawed comedy"

Much rubbernecking comedy ensues as we watch [Bick] lie to his editor while smuggling cans of Stella into the office lavatory... But while the satire zings, the plot sags... Plume is most effective when it sticks to Bick’s own travails, as he frets about why his editor has favourited one of his four-year-old tweets (“Was it a message?”) or admits he changed his name from James Bickerton to Jack Bick because “it sounded more like a Vice writer”. Yet the fun ends up feeling oddly guilty, not just because such moments are ultimately symptoms of the narrator’s breakdown, but because you sense the novel has its sights on being something other than a sparky office comedy of 21st-century media manners, which is a pity, because it’s a good one.


4 stars out of 5
17 May 2019

"The story of an ever-suffering everyman trapped in a prison of his own making is well told"

It’s inward-looking and faintly absurd but in a way that transmits the cloying substance of the city and its own navel-gazing. Plume’s cast of semi-sinister clowns aren’t the most sympathetic, but it’s the suffocating, Ballardian sense of place and mental and physical deterioration that Wiles, a design and architecture writer when not a novelist, does so horribly well. Plume is about a man trapped in a prison of his own making who endlessly gets nowhere at all.

5 stars out of 5
10 May 2019

"The book is joy unconfined"

This is the real Wiles: deeply in the world he describes, but a safe satirical step or two back from it. A more vivid rendering of modern London life would be hard to imagine: the mobile phone taxi apps, pubs recommended by interactive websites, property scams, job insecurity and terraced houses being converted into underground skyscrapers with private pools. The book is joy unconfined: the reader is sucked along unstoppably, but glorying too with uncomfortable recognition. Fabulous in every sense.

3 stars out of 5
Claire Allfree
9 May 2019

"an eerie and sometimes pretty sharp satire on the more sinister commodifications of modern life"

Wiles takes us deep into a subtly altered London at the mercy of the malign forces of gentrification, and seemingly in the hands of a mysterious tech maven whose new app can track every user at all times.

The narrative struggles to cohere, but it is an eerie and sometimes pretty sharp satire on the more sinister commodifications of modern life.