Gold medallist in 2010 Independent Publisher(US) Book Awards Horror category.
In the brilliant red doom of a Hampshire Sunset Brigit Conti can hear a voice behind her ears that is not her own. Bed-bound, and complaining of a rare bone disease that no Doctor can diagnose, her husband fears that the house they have purchased is a portal through which an older, more malign energy has passed, possessing his wife and son. Through their successive deterioration his secular and agnostic world-view undergoes a metamorphosis, drawing him to a strange man from the hills: the Rector, their unlikely saviour.
Or are he and his family merely victims of their own self-serving yuppie way of life?
The Picture of Contented New Wealth is a gothic tragedy set in the nineteen eighties, bringing proper characterisation and a literary sensibility to the traditional horror story. Its mix of generic elements and mystical realism deal with the irreducibility of evil and its successful normalisation in to our daily and dominant reality.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
It may be hard to believe in spirits until they begin to ruin your life. The Picture of Contented New Wealth is an intriguing story of a family moving into a new house and the otherworldly problems they face. A man looks towards a portal, which has lead him to believe that a foul spirit has entered his life and possessed his wife and son. The Picture of Contented New Wealth is an intriguing and psychological drama that should not be ignored. ~ James A Cox, Midwest Book Review
"So freaky I couldn't read this after dark at home by myself" ~ Clare English - BBC Radio Scotland - The Book Cafe
The best of both worlds: the visual excitement of The Exorcist but told as excellent literary fiction
Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Houston, TX, July 9, 2009 â€“ Right up there with the macabre and horror-filled diabolical plot of a Stephen King or John Updike novel is a fairly â€˜new kid on the blockâ€™ who will be giving everyone a run for their money in the metaphysical genre...It is a gothic tragedy set in the nineteen eighties that brings proper characterization and literary sensibility to the traditional horror story with just the right blend of gore, excitement, humor and desire. There is something terrifying about becoming afraid of familiar things that were never frightening beforeâ€¦ ~ Hot Indie News, posted pre release
Tariq Goddard - the ‘master of fright.’
The Picture of Contented New Wealth (O-Books) is a brilliantly crafted thriller by Tariq Goddard that keeps you on the edge of your seat. As this gothic tragedy set in the nineteen eighties takes hold, you’ll find yourself jumping as someone walks into the room unexpectedly. When all things familiar suddenly become sinister you know you’re reading a great book!
Goddard has gained recognition for his earlier books, which were nominated for national and international awards. What makes a good story? When the author crafts the tale around his own nightmares as Goddard does in The Picture of Contented New Wealth. Mixing a brew of thrills, desire, and humor, The Picture of Contented New Wealth goes beyond your traditional thriller.
The story tells the tale of the Conti family who purchase a house in Hampshire. The mother, bed-bound and complaining of a rare bone disease, hears a voice behind her ears that is not her own – causing her husband to fear that their home is a portal through which an older, more malign energy has passed and now possesses his wife and son. As their life deteriorates, his secular and agnostic world view undergoes a transformation, drawing him to a strange man from the hills – a preacher. Will this man be their unlikely savior or are he and his family merely victims of their own self-serving yuppie way of life? As the end of the eighties approaches, this family recognizes that it is not wealth they are obsessed with, but something far more evil… ~ USA Travel Magazine's Travel News
A woman lies bedridden in an old country house, complaining of a sickness that no doctor can treat. Terrible sights and smells assail the senses of all who visit her. Only the ancient housekeeper, who has seen it all before, is unmoved. Is the woman demonically possessed, and, if so, how much is she an unwilling victim? The local vicar can't help, but he knows someone who can, a shaman-like priest known as The Rector. But is salvation attainable, and, if it is, on what terms? Tariq Goddard's ingenious take on the Gothic novel forsakes cheap thrills and chills in favour of something much more interesting - a lucid exploration of good and evil and the meaning of faith.
SIMON SHAW ~ THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
Tariq Goddard, The Picture of Contented New Wealth: A Metaphysical Horror
'A thin white mist was spilling through the curtains heightening the scarlet in Brigit's lips, her red tongue curling from her mouth like a baby dragons phallus. The parts of her that did not resemble food on the turn appeared to be crafted from silvery wax, uncanny inhumanity pervading every inch of her sleeping body' - Tariq Goddard.
'There was an instant of atomic stillness before the shadow disintegrated into a plethora of hissing molecules, its parts falling away like a routed army, the whole floor reverberating with the sound of a hundred little footprints fleeing in panic' - Tariq Goddard.
Tariq Goddard's Metaphysical Horror novel is one of the few books to actually make me afraid, ( of what, I'm unsure - and that is most unnerving ) whilst and after putting down the text. The last book that installed similarly affecting emotions within myself was Nicolai Gogols 'The Night Before Christmas' a piece from his Ukrainian Tales collection of short stories. An odd connection of two dissimilar texts, Gogol's phantasmagorically dark and eerie tales of folklore pre-suppose a belief ( or at least a familiarity ) in the paranormal and extra-vital magic of Ukrainian Christianity whilst entwining the reader around a magical world of ghosts, witches and demons. Whilst Goddard's work, set in 1980's Hampshire among middle-upper class yuppie nobodies, maintains all the scoffing denial that would be expected around such subjects however the slow screw of ensuring all notions and explanations point towards a genuinely paranormal or demoniacal entity, much to the dismay of the works protagonist, positively cements the tangibility ( or more concerning - the possibility ) of an 'other'. Mr Conti and Martin's awkward reluctance to embrace the facts around them is echoed within the era and the situation. The house ( Tyger Tyger house - possibly an oblique reference to William Blake's 1794 poem 'The Tyger' ) is described in great detail, and the problems it confronts its inhabitants with provides much of the horror, however this generic horror apparatus is firmly glued into an awkward, mundane and retrorific paradigm of 80's socioscope, the house is not haunted per se, just harbouring negatives. The form is deceiving, the corners are lies, reflections are mirages and the shadows are tricks - at first ( and intrinsically ) these maladies are not illnesses of spirit - rather illnesses of a sick philosophy - namely the contented new wealth of unnaturally displaced yuppies..
Goddards conjuring of atmosphere and tweaking of the 'emotional air' is perhaps his most accomplished feat within the text. '....the dusk clouds reddening before him like bleeding lizard skins.' - a gem of a description of a Hampshire dusk, the phrase resonating within the works polystrata -a hallucinatory description of an idyllic place, geographically, economically and in few, odd occurrences spiritually, but innately tainted by a negative and disruptive infraction of evil. Its the unknown - the other - that operates most disturbingly within the novels various situations. Its this subtle tugging on our psyche from an unseen entity that is so profoundly orchestrated by Goddard. Various instances occur whereby the characters intent is ill defined and the outcome of their actions not mentioned, or merely hinted at. These contexts are not red herrings, just open ends - however the reading ( our interpretation ) is heavily jaded by the negative atmosphere and constant reinforcement that which is unknown is also sinister. The notion of the uncanny ( un-homely ) is a shrewd parallel, to juxtapose with displaced yuppies, and the imagery and leverage Goddard employs so effectively is not new - but none the less powerful for its genericism ( William Peter Blatty's 'The Exorcist' is heavily referenced, or simply reinstated ) - what is implied is a natural - or unnatural notion that when humans move against the spirits of the world an other, and uncanny entity can fill any void left open by such an awkward and poorly fitting life.
Evil finding a home within an awkward house inhabited by people who are perhaps unnaturally too young, rich and free is not new, however Goddards transposition of this idea to the novels particular historical and geographical context is ( to my knowledge ) relevant and long overdue. The most provocative and fundamentally worrying idea is presented within chapter five. Philosophy is confronted directly as contributory facets concerning 'Iblis' access to Brigit's spirit when The Rector exclaimed "You think the Professors in a Philosophy Department would know the Devil if it goosed them in the street? To my knowledge Iblis doesn't feature greatly in the lexicon of of linguistic analytic philosophy, and don't even get me started on the Continentals. There could be no safer home to dwell in..... The reason no one saw it coming, Mr Conti, is because good and evil have become to much to be true, haven't they? Quaint, embarrassing, pre-scientific concepts, replaced by "the banality of evil", "foucaldian" power relations of some other quasi-sociological flim-flam". The suggestion here is that as philosophers dwell on logic within a climate where there are no moral absolutes evil could find a space to be. This suggestion is contested by Martin who argues "only egg heads think like that, man" before The Rector continues to provide one of the most fundamentally disturbing questions - "Maybe so, but the rest of us are content to do without moral absolutes, you only have to turn on the news to watch the fall out. Truth no longer moves through knowledge because truth no longer exists....Your wife, Mr Conti, thought that she could think her way beyond good and evil, both of which dwell in what she called ontology and I call God. In the academic atmosphere she moved in, what was the use of a close reading of Aquinas next to the blasphemous freedom advocated by Nietsche? The Christians lost the intellectual arguments ago. Meanwhile out there in the real world Iblis is having a ball. ..... Ideas that are of eternity are never wrong: though occasionally they slip out of fashion. There is no moral neutrality in this world and no ethically disinterested processes in life. Your wife simply chose to ignore the moral dimensions, invoking evolutionary psychology, post-structuralism, whatever."
I didn't find this argument threatening or preachy. I actually put the book down feeling slightly perplexed. In recent times I can't remember anyone asking the question of Good or Evil within an intellectual context, not in Art theory, post structuralism, or even BBC's Question Time. Perhaps as The Rector so eloquently explained, good and evil are too true, too true in a world where nothing is real - but these are ideas that have been around as long as man, so why are they no longer confronted? Even on more social issues I feel the majority of decision lies in political or social notions rather than moral absolutes. I cant help but feel that more discussion for contextualising various intellectual themes within moral absolutes would do more than stop the eerie shadows from creeping up the walls. Goddard should be praised for attempting to re-ignite such an old discussion, but his main triumph is re-threading and re-aligning the imperatives to a contemporary sphere.
POSTED BY VIVIAN 0 COMMENTS ~
Brilliant, terrifying, completely blown away. ~ Le Cool
The Picture of Contented New Wealth is an intellectual horror story set in a creepy old house in the English countryside. Something evil has been lurking in its dark paneled walls for as long as the house has stood, but ever since the Conti family has moved in the presence seems moreâ€¦malign.
The evil presence soon reveals itself as demonic in nature, no matter how unbelieving the secular family is. Mrs. Conti soon becomes possessed and her young son falls under her power. It is up to the incredulous Mr. Conti to find a way to save his family.
This eloquent novel is not your typical haunted house or possession story. Author Tariq Goddard weaves some heavy philosophical and religious themes throughout the novel, yet â€œheavyâ€ shouldnâ€™t be taken to mean that they weigh the book down. These themes help bolster the bookâ€™s story and make perfect sense in the grand scheme of things.
Goddard makes wonderful use of the large house the Contiâ€™s move into, called Tyger Tyger, which, of course, brings to mind William Blakeâ€™s poem The Tyger (â€œTyger! Tyger! burning bright/ In the forests of the night,/What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?â€). And Tyger Tyger House certainly does burn brightâ€¦with all the fires of Hell! Its long, shadowy corridors, whispering voices, shadowy figures and things that just donâ€™t seem right certainly sent shivers up my spine! The experiences the family members face in the house are downright unsettling, including their son claiming to play with the familyâ€™s long-dead cat or their au pereâ€™s horrifyingly real nightmares.
Equally horrifying is the possession of Mrs. Conti. Her husband is so disbelieving of the supernatural that he thinks she is just mentally ill, but after his continued experiences with both the house, strange occurrences and his sick wife, comes to believe in the supernatural. Mrs. Contiâ€™s attacks keep getting worse, her appearance changing along with her demeanor. Her transformation is chilling to read and yet you canâ€™t help but wanting to read more.
I havenâ€™t personally read any of author Goddardâ€™s previous works, but I sincerely hope that in his literary future he decides to write another horror novel. The Picture of Contented New Wealth crawled deep under my skin and remained there long after I had finished reading it. Its metaphysical horror story will certainly get you thinking all the while you cower under the covers! ~ Fatally Yours
A novel with a disturbing subject and aim â€“ however, it concerns matters very close to the heart of religion and faith. This novel is an interesting reminder that not all of the Brigit and Hartley generation are satisfied by secularism. They may not be drawn to the current types of Christianity available in this country, yet they still wrestle with how not to be lead into temptation and long to be delivered from evil. ~ Peter Cruchley-Jones, URC minister in Cardiff, Reform
FOR 'HOMAGE TO A FIRING SQUAD ~
Cerebral, powerful and accomplished ~ The Face
A pacy, poised and undeniably exciting debut...a teat bleakly humorous, well written adventure ~ Boyd Tonkin, Independent
A clever mix of humour and horror and sadness and life and death...a surreal book that juggles humour with horror as it journeys deep into the night ~ John King
Goddard's highly impressive debut mixes a black comic tone reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino and Graham Greene, a cracking good read. ~ Mail on Sunday
Goddard's eye is for irony and disaster, a potent thriller, driven by unravelling the neuroses of his characters as much as by uncovering the politics behind their predicament. ~ Observer
Frank sex and bloody and farcical violence, serious readable and unpredictable ~ The Big Issue
Highly polished, bullets fly through the air, knives flash silver in the moonlight. ~ Daily Mail
Bravura quality, a dazzling debut, half farce half atrocity ~ James Collard, Times Magazine
Beautifully choreographed, plotted with the minimum of fuss and dark with excellent seasoning. ~ Spain Magazine
Well rounded, sophisticated, evocative and darkly humorous, full of fear, excitement and futility. ~ The Morning Star
Auspicious and audacious, a triumph of philosophical enquiry with earthy gory action. ~ Independent on Sunday
Impressive, each character is drawn with humour and subtlety...a fine balance between comedy and tragedy, pathos and slapstick. ~ The Times
A nasty and carnage ridden pastiche ~ The Guardian
FOR DYNAMO ~
A tremendous story of everyday life in a place of tremendous unrest. ~ ES Magazine
A thoroughly entertaining story of drinking and women, colourful, lively and enjoyable. ~ The Times
Laugh out aloud, an acute grasp of subtlety and irony, one of our finest young novelists ~ Arena
Crisp, colourful, lively and enjoyable. ~ The Guardian
Riveting, authentic and very down and dirty... essential reading. ~ David Shukman, Daily Mail
Original, clever and accomplished, a wonderful premise for a novel, which he pulls of with a flourish, a smart, engaging novel from a refreshingly unusual voice in British Fiction. ~ Martyn Bedford, The New Statesman
STAR CHOICE- irresistible and original ~ Bookseller Magazine
A compulsive, headlong narrative, profound psychological sense, the conclusion is surprising and masterly ~ Uncut
Sheer excitement that matches Elmore Leonard in hyperbole and humour. Characters slip into the readers heart. ~ Sunday Times
Frictionlessly combines the individual and universal, both an aria and hooligan holler to the human spirit ~ Time Out
A colourful and pensive novel full of eccentricity and desperate humour...Dynamo's closing moments grip like a vice. ~ Sunday Herald
A fascinating story told with tension, pace and humour ~ Daren King, Scotland on Sunday
Very little football occurs in Dynamo, yet it remains as transfixing as a Maradona run and as surprising and wonderful as Wales beating Italy. Dynamo like Football itself, is an affirmation and exageration of life. ~ Niall Griffiths
Four stars, a brilliant and offbeat comedy spun out of a bizarre true story. ~ South China Morning Post
FOR THE MORNING RIDES BEHIND US ~
An exuberant narrative that turns on the fresh possibilities of tenderness...simply rumbustious. ~ James Urquhart, Independent
Valiant, full of anecdotes maxims and bravado. ~ Time Out
The politics of the time are portrayed with a simple gusto, it sparkles with a depth of language and ideas but retains buoyancy, it's also very funny and playful...a universal and entertaining novel about England, freedom, fear and existential malaise ~ Richard Cabut, The Daily Telegraph
It's tone is dark, getting darker, a remarkable portrayal of friendship and frustration, grimly funny rolling with narrative energy. ~ Arena
Strives to explain post war society, the endeavour of which is exhilarating ~ Sunday Telegraph
Large minded and deserving of a wide readership. It is hard to believe that there is a more promising novelist under the age of 30 working in Britain today. ~ Andrew Biswell, Scotland on Sunday
A pacy and intelligent tale that has won him friends in high places, full of whip cracking prose and characters that bounce of the page ~ Romford Recorder