Adrian Slatcher writes poetry, fiction and criticism, and lives in Manchester.
When his debut novel “The Restraint of Beasts” was shortlisted for the 1998 Booker Prize (when it should have won over McEwan’s “Amsterdam”) Magnus Mills was charicatured as the “writing bus driver” as if a writer with a job was preposterous. As Mills, an intelligent and original writer, was keen to point out, writers have to do something, and bus driving fitted in nicely. It’s worth mentioning because one of Mill’s subjects is the banality of the work. In this debut he somehow channels the European existentialism of “Waiting for Godot” through the comic fabulism of “Animal Farm.” His second book, “All Quiet on the Western Front”, is subtler and funnier still – depicting a rural society that exists through sharing favours. Better still, and one of the great little books of the last decade or so is “Three to See the King”, a strange fable of a man who lives in an isolated tin hut in a deserted landscape, only to become an unlikely guru for a non-spiritual age. Always short, and written in a deadpan prose that is much harder than it appears, Mills hasn’t really been bothered too much by the critics since his debut, but remains, for a loyal readership one of the most interesting of British novelists. In his his 2009 novel “The Maintenance of Headway” he took the ultimate busman’s holiday and wrote a novel about that honest profession.
Wikipedia entry on Magnus Mills