The lives of Q. (2023)

Laurie’s life as a young artist and his experience as a graduate of the Royal Academy Schools who was then welcomed back there to paint from the model for several years after graduation, was in so many ways the most exciting but most dangerous time of his life.

After dealing with some of his earlier, pre-adolescent experiences in his first antinovel, Kinch, he wanted to recapture that sense of pleasure, danger and confused adventure which he initially discovered in the act of painting, but then rediscovered and expressed in the not-so-different medium of words/poetry.  For Laurie, the visceral excitement of transposing visual, tactile and cerebral perceptions from one dimension to another has always remained the same, whether it is by means of paint-onto-canvas, or words-onto-paper.

The result is TYRO.

The main protagonist, Q, a committed young artist, takes the reader on a wild and unpredictable journey through the salaciousness of Soho, down into and far beneath the historic structures of Burlington House and the Royal Academy of Arts, and thence into a netherworld of wildly disparate psychological, ethereal, and mystical realms.  All these scenarios are set against the gritty backdrop of Q’s true existence on the cold North London streets, as the young tyro finds friends, humour, a secret art-forging factory, a new love, cruelty, farce, and even a degree of redemption in a doomed and frantic search for his perfidious abscondee father.

Why ‘antinovel’? 

Laurie regards the great and historic literary project of ‘The Novel’ to be exhausted, and as near death as makes no difference.  The use of the word ‘antinovel’ to describe his fiction may not be ideal, but it does express his distaste for the flabbiness of most current attitudes to this cliché-encrusted form, and it also suggests those elements of criticism which his fiction contains.

The cover design is based on his last oil painting, 'Old Compton Street, Soho'.



A tally of unravellings. (2015)

The surface narrative takes place in and around the walled cathedral city of Axton, and deals with the adventures of the boy Kinch, his friend Pigeon and the loner Brownie over a seven-day period.  As they each struggle through a sub-universe of violence, farce and melodrama, their received ideas of cognition, motive and memory are teased apart to expose the intricately redemptive epiphanies of the material world.
The form and distinctive appearance of KINCH are borrowed from the rhythms, chiaroscuros and cadences of painting and music, while the prose itself is intended to double as agent-avatar for the elusive nature of perception.  One of the book’s more important subtextual motifs lies in its sardonic critique of the accepted notions of Literary Genre.  An amused disdain for the desultory state of contemporary fiction, whether ‘pulp’ or ‘literary’, is also never far below the surface.
The urban and rural settings of the work are drawn from the author’s own experiences.  The city of Axton, for example, is a patchily distorted amalgam of the small Oxfordshire town of Watlington, where he spent his adolescence, and of Oxford itself, where he was educated.  Substantial research was, with not a little relish, carried out in ‘enemy territory’, firstly within the walls of St Albans Cathedral, and secondly aboard the decommissioned cruiser HMS Belfast.  
Laurie adds that any resemblance between the human characters in the story and any real persons, either living or dead, is entirely serendipitous.