"It works because, rather than in spite of any flaws in plot, narrative, character: these are the primary elements which make Compression so very readable, so entertaining."
"The apparent musical reference of the title is fairly elliptical when it comes to Tim Cundle’s novel, Compression, and while no effects pedals feature in this book, it’s a fitting title given the explosive nature of the text. It’s tense, but if it’s tense for the reader, the narrator’s cranium feels like it’s about to crack on every page. According to the bio, Cundle is ‘a veteran of the 70s Punk Rock scene, having been there obsessing over obscure bands from the very beginning.’"
"John Robb loves it, so much so he’s not only quoted in the blurb, but provided a full foreword for it, saying ‘this book is like life’, and they’ve gathered rave quotes from other reputable online music sites like Terrorizer, Rock Sound, and Subba-Culture for the back cover. I’m perhaps a little late to the party, but then, books can – and do – have a slow diffusion, so I make no apologies. And he’s right when he writes that it’s a punk rock novel that’s not directly about punk rock."
"Only very recently, I made a similar observation about Andrea Janov’s poetry collection, Short Skirts and Whiskey Shots: Tales of Nights I Shouldn’t Have Made it Home Alive, also published by Earth Island Books – although this is a very different beast. Back in the late 90s, I immersed myself in a whole heap of emerging fiction which at the time felt like a new wave of beat writing. I shan’t dwell too much on drawing the boundaries of style an definition here, or unravelling my position on how Burroughs and Kerouac are, in truth, associated by association rather than by their actual writing, which couldn’t be more different, but shall instead focus on the notion that The Beats came to represent revolution, and writing which wasn’t literary in any conventional sense, influencing literary rebels like Kathy Acker, who was quite possibly the first punk poet. And the late 90s saw an explosion of raw, immediate works, pretty much all underground, but with the likes of Stewart Home and Dennis Cooper standing at the forefront of as new wave of anti-establishment writing that as much as it referenced punk, brought the punk attitude to the forefront of contemporary literature."
"I’m not sure when Compression was actually written, but it’s set in 1998 and was published in various forms and formats in 2005, 2019, and seemingly 2022, with Amazon describing it as a ‘true crime’ novel. It’s one of those books which blurs the boundaries of many genres, with its unreliable narrator introducing layers of problemacy, but it certainly feels like 1998, and I don’t simply mean in terms of the now-historical details concerning BMW card, cars with cassette decks, and the hods of cash record companies would chuck around, but the punchy ‘tough and linear prose’ of which Robb is such a fan is reminiscent of so much that was finding a home on Serpent’s Tail before it lost its edge, and tiny indie publishers."
"This is a book set within a compressed timeframe, and while it’s not a book of action – quite the opposite, in fact: the majority of the story evolved through a series of conversations, reflections, and internal monologues, sometimes with one or more emerging from one of the others at the most unexpected tangents – a lot happens in a short space of time and a short number of pages.
There are times when the prose does get a little jumbled, perhaps trying to pack in a few lines more description and sensation than in strictly necessary, a bit more wiseass sass and gritty details than is essential, but it works in developing the reader’s sense of Flanagan’s complex character – and without those complexities and contradictions, the novel wouldn’t exist, let alone work."
"It works because, rather than in spite of any flaws in plot, narrative, character: these are the primary elements which make Compression so very readable, so entertaining. I hesitate to say ‘relatable’, because much of it isn’t, beyond the premise of flawed human beings wrestling with their past, which is, ultimately universal. That is to say that Compression is perhaps more relatable than is initially apparent, in that it deals with broader human condition issues by quite specific means and character failings."
"Despite its lack of movement, Compression is very much a plot-driven work as it is a character or concept-orientated novel, and it’s one which does keep you gripped from beginning to end."