Venero Armanno’s latest novel begins implausibly. A young man is troubled by a recurring dream about a faceless, one-armed, blob-like creature being throttled by someone wearing a pale blue shirt. This troubled dreamer is Mark Alter (the unsubtle last name underlines one of the book’s central concerns), a university drop-out estranged from his parents and now leading a grungy existence in a seaside shack. The cavalcade of unlikely events starts on page four. After watching a so-called ‘cheap slasher film’ at his local cinema, Mark decides to turn his nightmare into a screenplay about ‘a shape-shifting demon from the Id’. The title? No-Face, of course. Mark sends his work to various producer types. One of these bigwigs replies by telephone (this is a novel where implausibilities are piled very high indeed) and accuses Mark of plagiarism. According to this famous producer, No-Face has ripped off the obscure novel Black Mountain, written five years before by the equally obscure Cesare Montenero.
Venero Armanno: Black Mountain
by Venero Armanno
University of Queensland Press, $29.95 pb, 279 pp, 9780702239151
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Jeffrey Poacher has written about Australian fiction and literary criticism for ABR since 2008. His essays, reviews, and other writing have appeared in HEAT, The Times Literary Supplement, Jacket, and various academic journals. He lives in Brisbane.
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