by James Miller
James Miller is a hot property on the London literary scene, so voguishly now as to be parodic: his website reveals devotions to African-American writing, anti-capitalist protest, literary theory, Middle Eastern politics, Jamaican dance hall music - anything, in fact, that offers 'an insight into our present postmodern nightmare'. A postmodern nightmare is one way of describing Lost Boys, an ambitious but unsatisfying attempt to fuse the Iraq war, feckless Western youth and 21st-century technology/media. Timothy Dashwood is your average pre-teen: sensitive and alienated, he withdraws into a cyber-world of cyber-violence. The parallels with Timothy's father, Arthur, who works for an evil oil company in Baghdad, are hard to miss. I imagine we are meant to be haunted by this Ballard-esque echo of the real in the virtual. But Miller's prose is so tricksy, so eager to please with its 'mash-up' of narrative forms, differing viewpoints and literary allusions that the ghost has left the machine. There are moments of great promise but too many are drenched in their own significance: 'The war was everywhere now. We spoke a different language. We were other than we had been.' Well, quite.