My name is Perceval Pitthelm and if it sounds familiar then you must be a devotee of adventure stories, for I’m a writer of them and successful in a modest way, but rather less popular than in my youth.
Writer, explorer, inventor, fantastist … join Perceval Pitthelm as he takes you on a journey in the township of Kionga, self-propelled on a pair of massive, mechanical kangaroo legs. His stories may be wild, but his adventures are even wilder. In a riot of imagination and literary sleight of hand, Rhys Hughes presents an old-style adventure set in East Africa, Brazil and the Sahara Desert.
We’re talking Philip José Farmer crossed with H Bedford-Jones meeting James Hilton by way of Karel Čapek (in his War with the Newts phase). And with hefty chunks of Flann O’Brien and Boris Vian thrown in for good measure!
‘The Wistful Wanderings of Perceval Pitthelm may well be Rhys Hughes’ best book. Here he is in brilliantly adventurous form, swashbuckling into the Management Office of Convention, turning over desks and thumbing his nose before giving a presentation on the coruscating power of imagination, the wonder of words, the transformative effect of wit on the bottom line of humanity and then vanishing with a flourish in a puff of cardamom-scented smoke before the applause has died down.’ Mark Chadbourn
First review just in: http://greydogtales.com/blog/not-exactly-heroes-three-new-fictions-reviewed/
‘A fantastical world swathed up in saudade and … bizarre events. Incidents triggered by the bittersweet longings of human heart, which makes the absurdity seem plausible amidst the ludicrous … The roller coaster of the ride that this book turns out to be is every bit delightful. In a subtle way, it does lead to contemplation upon the absurdity of human struggle to achieve the impossible whilst all that is needed is a little love and peace.’ Rakhi Dalal, borderlessjournal.com (https://borderlessjournal.com/2023/06/14/saudade-for-sale/)
“Basically… immensely readable, and enjoyable” John Linwood Grant
“Rhys Hughes seems almost the sum of our planet’s literature… As well as being drunk on language and wild imagery, he is also sober on the essentials of thought. He has something of Mervyn Peake’s glorious invention, something of John Cowper Powys’s contemplative, almost disdainful existentialism, a sensuality, a relish, an addiction to the delicious. He’s as tricky as his own characters… He toys with convention. He makes the metaphysical political, the personal incredible and the comic hints at subtle pain. Few living fictioneers approach this chef’s sardonic confections, certainly not in English.” — MICHAEL MOORCOCK
“Quirky and fantastic and sometimes quite twisted, Rhys Hughes is a treat for those in the mood for something utterly different.” — ELLEN DATLOW
“Rhys Hughes is an accomplished player with words, plots, effects, relationships, sensibilities; you name it, Hughes tries to stand it on its head. More often than seems attributable to mere chance, he succeeds.” — ED BRYANT, LOCUS
“Dazzling prose. Put your feet up and dip in. Life will never seem quite the same again.” — THE THIRD ALTERNATIVE
“I wore throughout the undisplaceable, unsequelchable rictus of a grin of both delight and amazement.” — MICHAEL BISHOP
“The incredible richness of language, the inexhaustible array of puns, double entendres, weird metaphors, non-lexical use of words, and original turns of phrase… Rhys Hughes is essentially an absurdist humorist, though often of a peculiarly black, tricky, and sometimes bloody sort. Much of his work is travesty, drawing for substance on other works, which he uses as a basis for destructive humor, for reinterpretation in a different mode, or as a starting point for his own work. This statement is not meant in disparagement, for Hughes’s new versions are highly original in conception and often brilliant.” — SUPERNATURAL FICTION WRITERS (SCRIBNERS)
“Rhys Hughes is one of the most wildly inventive talents we are graced with today.” — ALL HALLOWS
“Hughes’ world is a magical one, and his language is the most magical thing of all.” — T E D KLEIN
“There are no easy phrases to describe Hughes’ fiction; it’s so exotic. His writing is incredibly precise and at the same time his imagination is so unfettered.” — JEFFREY FORD
“Hughes’ similarity to Spike Milligan runs deeper than the occasional shared lurch of phrase, for he writes as though he’d been bloodied in the same wars Milligan fought for eight decades: the same up-yours melancholia about the malice of the absurd – about the absurdness of the world defined not only as an inherent lack of species-friendly grammar in the convulsion of the real, but also a sense that anyone who acts as though he believes what he is told by our Masters will almost necessarily inflict pain on others.” — JOHN CLUTE
“What do I like about Rhys Hughes’s work? Fun. Hughes sees and precipitates in words the latent humour in almost anything. Ranging from what our culture considers pleasing and smilingly ridiculous to horrors that have to be laughed at if they are faceable at all, Hughes is a laughing observer, both inside and outside. With Hughes you get humour that is white, various shades of grey, black – and I don’t know why humour cannot be characterized by other colours. I am also enormously impressed by Hughes’s stylistic brilliance. The richness of language, the occasional Cambrianisms, the inexhaustible array of puns, weird metaphors that form the point of a story. And I envy him his netted imagination. As a man who sees connections where others do not, he offers enough ideas, if parcelled out, to fill a catalogue of fantasy for a generation of writers.” — E F BLEILER
“It’s a crime that Rhys Hughes is not as widely known as Italo Calvino and other writers of that stature. Brilliantly written and conceived, Hughes’ fiction has few parallels anywhere in the world. In some alternate universe with a better sense of justice, his work triumphantly parades across all bestseller lists. ” — JEFF VANDERMEER
“Every Hughes story implies much, served with wit and whimsy and word-relish, high spirits and bittersweet twists.” — IAN WATSON
“A dazzling disintegration of the reality principle. A rite of passage to the greater world beyond common sense. Raises the bar on profundity and sets a comic standard for the tragic limits of our human experience. Like Beckett on nitrous oxide. Like Kafka with a brighter sense of humor.” — A A ATTANASIO
180pp. B-format paperback novel.
Published 23 March 2023
Cover Art by Jim Burns
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rhys Hughes was born in Wales but has lived in many different countries and currently lives in India. He began writing fiction at an early age and his first book, Worming the Harpy, was published in 1995. Since that time he has published more than forty other books. He recently completed an ambitious project that involved writing exactly 1000 linked narratives and took more than thirty years. His work has been translated into ten languages.