Nathan Brown of the UK's 'Louder Than War' reviews Tim Cundle's latest book, 'What Would Gary Gygax Do?', a compendium of 55 short stories for punks and hardcore kids and says that it is "Perfectly crafted for people with a short attention span"
And Helly Cherry, a Croatian literary and music zine, also had this to say "This twisted humour stems from the author's ability to awake a handful of feelings that make us human beings. Tim Cundle manages to point out human strengths and weaknesses, noting that none of us are perfect and that it is entirely humane to end up in weird situations". (Full reviews below).
Helly Cherry review - What Would Gary Gygax Do is a second book by Tim Cundle, a British author previously active in punk rock bands such as Charles Family Crisis and AxTxOxT. As the chances of reuniting members or forming new music projects were reduced to almost an absolute minimum, Tim decided to dedicate himself unreservedly to journalism, which has been his passion since the age of fifteen. His dedication to the written word includes various engagements such as working on Mass Movement, Big Cheese, Doctor Who Magazine, Fracture, and many other publications. After completing his studies and following the career that could have flowed in a logical direction, Tim decided to take the road less traveled and dedicated himself to subcultural journalism. However, this decision did not end in complete failure but made Tim an experienced music journalist, dedicated to his work.
His latest book entitled What Would Gary Gygax Do makes up a comprehensive collection of selected stories written at different periods of his life. All the stories contain a subtle autobiographical connotation by which the author evokes memories from the past. However, this expansive autobiographical almanac will surely intrigue all those who decide to give this book a chance, because it arouses the urge in readers to engage in similar activities of evoking memories. Tim made sure that the thematic content was colorful enough so that melancholy would not prevail over a high dosage of twisty dark humor that mechanically drives thoughts in different directions.
In addition to these two very important elements in Cundle's stylistic expression, one can find a handful of grotesque moments, the absurdity of life, evoking memories, and many other elements that Tim managed to incorporate into his short stories. The author mainly relies on events from the British punk rock scene, of which he has been a part since the mid-eighties, and among the stories themselves, you can find some more resonant names that I will not mention on this occasion. What Would Gary Gygax Do awaken all the senses by questioning events that readers can easily identify with while leaving enough room for twisted humor. This twisted humor stems from the author's ability to awake a handful of feelings that make us human beings. Through this work, Tim Cundle manages to point out human strengths and weaknesses, noting that none of us are perfect and that it is entirely humane to end up in weird situations.
What Would Gary Gygax Do comes in 382 pages consisting of 55 stories divided into 55 chapters. Each chapter is decorated with phenomenal illustrations by Rachel Evans, who is also credited with the illustration that adorns the cover. The book is available in paperback format and digitally through Earth Island Books.
Louder Than War review - The author of What Would Gary Gygax Do, Tim Cundle, comes from the DIY punk scene. While I’ve never heard of his bands I know his zine, Mass Movement. Rachel Evans provides cartoon style graphics for the cover and as a teaser/marker for each story. This book will particularly appeal to people of a certain age immersed in the punk scene.
The cultural reference points outside punk and hardcore are the likes of Planet of the Apes, Scooby Doo, Tiswas, Grange Hill and, of course, Star Wars. The central strand running through a lot of the book is punk (of course) or at least the version of it I’ve loved for the past 40 years. It was amusing that having defined what punk is, 1 page later the author declares “no set rules, it meant something different to everyone and that was its beauty”. On several occasions he recounts how money tried to buy out punk after it had survived all those years in the wasteland. He mentions heavy metal and hip-hip too, but these are almost asides.
If you like taking a dry sardnonic potshot at life this book is for you. I can hear the influence of Henry Rollins’ voice within the irreverent, unapologetic, tone. Cynical, dry humour with a dose of misanthropy leaps off the pages. Religion, capitalism and sexism all get a kicking alongside the odd appeal to “pool our resources and work together”. Working through small town bullshit these tales take in school, work, teenage years, punk gigs, drinking, incidents with the police, badly organised festivals, gaming. It’s all in there. HC bands like Agnostic Front and Gorilla Biscuits get a mention. You could say it’s kinda like a guide to getting through life and a reminder that it’s ain’t gonna be easy.
I thought the tales of drunkenness captured the experience and emotions fairly well. There is a hilarious, acerbic, take down of hippies for the capitalists in alternative clothing they sometimes become. I nearly spat my coffee out (black of course, in keeping with the milieu) when I read the line “Bitterness, I could write a book on the subject…” Erm, you did mate!
There are personal moments dealing with death and a harrowing account of sexual abuse which aren’t comfortable to read. As most of this is written in the first person, it’s difficult to tell which of these stories are fiction and which are confessional. Some of it rings true and I was left wondering which tales were based on real life – the mark of some talented writing. Much of it is all too relateable and familiar. I even recognised the cameo appearance of a couple of characters from the real South Wales punk scene of old.
The exception is the odd foray into science fiction, completley divorced from reality. The two mini comic strips at the end of the book connect up fantasy/science fiction with the world of punk nicely. 55 short stories, mini-essays and strips over 392 pages seems perfectly crafted for people with a short attention span…or qualify What Would Gary Gygax Do? as one of the books you leave in the toilet.