The other guy that writes posts around here is a guy named Jay Hosking.
Jay Hosking is quite a guy. He’s a neuroscience PhD. He’s an accomplished musician who has been in a number of rock n’ roll bands in which dudes sing “oooh baby” about girls. He can run for miles and miles in tight black pants designed specifically to run for miles in.
But did you know that in 2016 he became a published novelist? Well, it happened! Three Years With The Rat, Jay’s debut novel, was released here in Canada this August. I know this because I’ve seen this book in the wild.
Getting a novel published is no small feat, and I think that it’s fair to say that Jay should feel pretty proud about his accomplishments. You can read a couple of different articles (here and here, for example) that contain interviews with Jay and his thoughts about the novel.
But more importantly, what are my thoughts about the novel? Well, that’s just what I’m about to tell you.
A Book Review
Jay’s book is a good book.
Okay, A More Thoughtful Review Now
Three Years With The Rat jams itself in that potentially problematic space where science fiction meets dramatic lit, but manages to stick the landing. It does not generally tip over into the dangerous territory that some “lit” works can where it seems like the book loves the smell of its own farts (although it comes close a few times, as Jay himself is well known for loving his own farts). It also manages to introduce some interesting philosophy-via-science concepts that generally serve to tickle the intellect without becoming a cudgel that batters the reader into admitting that they are, in fact, a dum dum that does not know a thing about what it means to truly be a science guy.
Note: When writing this review, I tried for a minute to say things like “Jay does ____, yadda yadda.” This read very strangely. It is also weird for me to call him “Hosking”, but I think that it might be less weird, so that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m hesitant to summarize the story in too detailed a manner, as I would prefer for you to read it yourself. The novel is ambitiously structured. Hosking allows the reader to observe events unfolding in three alternating time periods (the three years from the title of the novel, silly). In these three time periods, his protagonist – an unnamed character that most outlets seem to have dubbed “little brother” – grapples with the mysterious disappearance of his sister and her partner, drinking a lot, taking care of a very charming rat, goddamned time-travel-kinda, science-boxes that may contain scary things, and the ups and downs of young love.
Okay, that was glib and it’s all far better than that may sound. The cyclical movement through the three time periods allows Hosking to reveal his cards gradually, and contributes to an undeniable sensation of momentum that continues to ramp up through to the novel’s conclusion. To put it plainly, this is a page-turner, but not in the way that one might apply to a piece of genre trash. There are genuine ideas at play here and, for the most part, these ideas come together into a very satisfying whole.
Three Years With The Rat is a very good debut novel that I had a lot of fun reading. I’m not just saying that because I’m his friend, but I am saying that I was pleasantly impressed by the work and that I’m proud to call him my friend.
I’m glad that I didn’t have to just pretend to like it, the way that I just pretend to like his music.
Where To Go Next?
Because I’m a good friend, I’m not going to leave Jay Hosking high and dry when it comes to figuring out what to do for his follow-up to this rat book. In fact, I’ve put substantial effort into coming up with a number of new concepts for his follow-up. He’s welcome to use any one of them, but please let us know in the comments which of these you think he should tackle first!
Four Years With The Rat
The obvious follow-up would be a direct sequel to the first novel. Without spoiling anything, I can let you know that the book does end with a reasonable degree of finality. Nonetheless, there’s nothing saying that there isn’t another tale to be told about spending even more time in a science-box nightmare where a guy’s only friend is a rat and maybe it’s the same rat from the first book and maybe now he’s wearing a hat. Just a thought. Also, this book would be longer than the first book by an additional 33%, so maybe Jay would get more money? Is that how books work?
Three Beers With The Rat
A New Jersey mob thug spends an entire novel at a bar stalling another mob guy who is suspected of squealing to the cops, waiting for reinforcements to arrive and rub the guy out. They have great conversations and they both learn that life isn’t as cut-and-dried as it seems to be, but in the end it doesn’t matter because the rat has to die. This could also be a screenplay. Get on it, Jay.
Three Years With Ararat
A Canadian film critic spends three years of his life watching nothing but Atom Egoyan’s 2002 film Ararat. His book doesn’t get published and he goes mad realizing that he should have written about Exotica.
Three Years With Bonnie Raitt
Jay Hosking spends three years on the road with blues-rock legend Bonnie Raitt in this rousing tale of rock n’ roll royalty. Bonnie convinces Jay to get another tattoo, but the book ends with a sly wink when he doesn’t reveal the nature of the tattoo or its location.
Three Yars: That’s A Wrap
Jay Hosking revives the long-running line of novels based on the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series in his triumphant return to the sci-fi genre. In this haunting tale, the crew of the Enterprise is visited by three separate ghosts of Chief Security Officer Tasha Yar, each questioning the crew as to why they let her die on that planet. The crisis is averted when they find out that the ghosts were actually just the owners of the nearby space amusement park, who “would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids”.
TreeBeard’s With A Rack
Jay’s erotic fan-fiction about Treebeard, the beloved giant tree-monster from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series. Jay chronicles Treebeard’s sexy journey through giant tree-monster puberty, delivering the sensational reveal that Treebeard is actually a lady tree.
…a budding lady tree.
I would read any or all of these books. In fact, I’m desperate to. Please, Dr. Hosking. Don’t let me down.