Philip K Dick once said that paranoia isn’t when you think your boss is against you but when you think your bosses phone is against you. That sentiment pervades Stay God by Nik Korpon, especially in the sections that take place in the present timeline. Vacuum cleaners, walls and green shoelaces all become suspect as our protag loses his shit. Remember the last act of Goodfellas when Ray Liota’s character, Henry Hill, was coked out of his gourd, not sleeping, running around trying to keep his shit together but failing spectacularly? Stay God is like that pretty much the whole time.
There are however times when the hallucinatory nature of the main characters perception undercuts the tension of the book. With the main character constantly blending things that aren’t there with things that are in his mind the reader can’t help but start to doubt everything. If the character is scared of a perceived threat and the reader doubts the threat is there then they run the risk of not caring. The same is true when the main character sees something and the reader doubts its existence. A disconnect sometimes forms between the reader and the protag that produces an unintended side effect. With that said, the crazed prose is a joy to read.
Stay God will probably shake some readers but those that hang on will be in for a hell of a ride. While Korpon proves himself to be one of the wild ones here, one of the new noir practitioners carving his own space in the new millennium, I don’t know if Korpon’s intentions are to stay in the crime genre with his next novel. I only say this because this is my first exposure to his fiction. Regardless Nik Korpon is one to watch and I for one can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.