The novel tells the story of the love affair between Jack Stoltz and Catherine Ramirez. A shy, intense and introspective man, his desire for her is strong and abrupt. She, his opposite, is wild, sensual and mercurial. Theirs is an obsessive love, ardent and intense while dangerously self-destructive in its all-consuming design. When at last their love is realised, it exists as a delicate and fragile entity, constantly threatening to be consumed by its own intensity and their own deeply buried but explosive anxieties. Jack’s encounter with a destitute and desperate stranger – a man who believes there’s no purpose in looking for love in a selfish, violent and hypocritical world – threatens to destroy not only Jack and Catherine’s love for one another but their very identities.
Nick Taussig’s first novel is a powerful tale of sexual restlessness and need, an exploration and deconstruction of that intangible concept we call love. Taussig’s bold and uncompromising style reflects the raw sexual needs of his characters as they rage against conventional notions of monogamy and fidelity.
Set against a stark background of neo-Dickensian London, the novel delves deep into the multiplicitous nature of the self. The central characters – Jack, Catherine and Gold – appear as a triangle of destructive internal forces, each of them threatened with lost love and potential tragedy.
The result is a starkly honest tale of love, sex and obsession in the twenty-first century.
Taussig draws on his own experiences, first, in his exploration of homelessness and its common facets of mental illness and alcoholism, and second, in his study of madness and the fine line between reason and unreason.
An absolutely stunning debut novel. It is for the lovelorn, and for those in love. It is just very well-written.
Paul Blezard, Between the Lines, Oneword
A twisted tale of love set in a darker side of London … it has sly plot twists and persuasive [characters] … and whispers of promising novels – or movies – to come.
Daneet Steffens, Time Out
As visceral a tale of love, sex and human emotion as you are ever likely to read … the book is both dangerous and heart-stopping. Powerful, modern and moving, Love and Mayhem is as much a work of art as it is a work of literature.
The novel is so full of insight and genuine innovation in form and content. I think it captures brilliantly all the nuances of passion, and the way that passion can sweep away the more rational side of us. Very sobering and moving.
Alain de Botton, author of Status Anxiety and The Consolations of Philosophy
The writing is swift and clean, the novel a solid and emotionally mature piece.
Ashley Stokes, The Guardian and Times Literary Supplement critic
Bold and yet subtle on the same page, a useful balancing act, delivered with panache and sincerity.
The writing is tight … painting London in a menacing half-light [and] Taussig’s assertion that this was inspired by his own experiences adds a further edge to proceedings.
Kingsley Marshall, Notion
An absorbing plot and pliable language makes this novel exceptional.
One of the best books of 2005, a book full of emotions and paradoxes which will excite the reader.
This is a consistently well-written piece with an intensity which suits the mood of the narrative perfectly. An excellent debut, Taussig’s second novel is due out next year, and I for one can’t wait to read it.
Elena Botterill, Nottingham Evening Post
His rapid, urgent style and descriptive powers keep the reader in play, [and] the excellent sense of place deriving from the London background is a real strength, and there is conviction too, in the reasons for the final outcome.
Margaret Laird, Society Today
A tragic love story first and foremost, Love and Mayhem also explores homelessness and addiction, the person behind the huddled form.
Carrie Briffett, Big Issue