For Your Pleasure & Questionable Behaviour
by Thomas James Taylor
Xlibris AU

"It could mean that you don’t have to strive in search of some great adventure all your life, when life, itself, being human, is already the great adventure."

In this book, one can enjoy two novels in one, each unrelated except for their mutual Australian setting. The first book is a tale of a close friendship between two men that is disguised as a gritty crime caper. Morris and Spider are tangled in a life of wrongdoing yet long to escape it. Lively descriptions of people and place animate a standard plot: the age-old quest for ill-gotten money and securement of drugs. The pawn-shop transaction featuring the “Right Honourable Sir Desmond Tutu” white leather lounge suite is especially spirited. What really shines are the sympathetic descriptions of Spider and Morris and their unusual, even humorous, reactions to their situation and each other. The inner workings of level-headed, kind Morris and his deceptively shallow sidekick, Spider, beg to be unfolded, perhaps in a well-crafted short story.

The second book careens into the realm of science fiction via a descent on an escalator (literally) into the bowels of hell. The main character, John, is an unemployed failure with a wife and baby to feed. True to his habit of seeking something for nothing, John attempts to improve his finances by playing a mysterious slot machine visible only to him. The magic gaming machine drops John into absurdist scenarios that are a wicked cross between A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. Imaginative quandaries (mazes, portals of illusion) create a physical manifestation of John’s strengths and weaknesses. The gaming machine symbolizes man’s free will to choose. Will this journey teach John to select correctly? The creative ending surprises.

Imaginative and creative scenes, dark humor, a gift for establishing character, and a solid sense of place imbue both books with an unusual perspective on the paradoxical strengths and weaknesses of the human condition. Morris, Spider, and John are men not soon to be forgotten.

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