Home AppreciationsThe Sandman cometh: the ‘splendidly macabre’ (also ‘comic’) achievements of Miles Gibson
The Sandman cometh: the ‘splendidly macabre’ (also ‘comic’) achievements of Miles Gibson

The Sandman cometh: the ‘splendidly macabre’ (also ‘comic’) achievements of Miles Gibson

A word here to mark the arrival upon the Finds list of the multifariously gifted Miles Gibson: newly in our livery is The Sandman (1984), to follow in consecutive months are Dancing with Mermaids and Kingdom Swann, all of which have been augmented by brand new prefaces from Mr Gibson himself.

Miles’ presence on the web takes many and varied forms. But this is only as befits a writer who has been favourably compared to, inter alia, Ian McEwan (in the FT), Garcia Marquez (in Country Life), Poe (the United Press), Swift (the Sydney Morning Herald), Mervyn Peake (the Literary Review), Martin Amis (the TLS), Dylan Thomas (the Evening Standard), Evelyn Waugh (the Observer) and even David Lynch (Time Out). I can assure you that you will enjoy the chase if, Alice-like, you venture down the electronic rabbit-hole in pursuit of his fugitive shade.

The official Miles Gibson website with extended details of both his writings and artworks is here. His ‘The Author Notes’ blog – which he has described to me as ‘nothing but mischief’, and which I can’t recommend highly enough – is here. And his fabulous Tumblr page of hand-inked collage-postcards is here.

Let us say a little, then, of Gibson’s notorious Sandman – one William Burton by name, who is seen to grow up in a small hotel in a shabby English seaside town, lonely and inclined to practise conjuring tricks. Fully grown he turns to magic of a darker kind, and takes to walking abroad at night, predatory, on the streets of London.

Should you be afraid – very afraid? By no means. The TLS hailed the novel for its ‘comic impact’ as achieved by ‘the deftness of Gibson’s control.’ (Cosmopolitan, too, rated it ‘horribly deft’!) Time Out thought it ‘a splendidly macabre achievement’, the Sydney Morning Herald felt it was ‘written by a virtuoso.’

As Miles reflects in his new preface to the novel in Finds: “I hadn’t intended to shock the reader with a eulogy for a serial killer. I’d created a monster, perhaps, but like any proud parent I’d loved him enough to forgive his crimes and misdemeanours and felt comfortable enough in his company to regard the narrative as a lament for a lost soul, an erotic fantasy, a pitch-black comedy…”

Keep ’em peeled for a chance to win a copy of The Sandman in our next big prize quiz, coming soon…