Erase and Rewind - full synopsis

Erase and Rewind begins with a first person narrative from the point of view of the principal character, Karl Ganz. He both charms and repels the reader as he speaks about his life now and in the past. After a childhood of poverty and loss he became a callous petty criminal and pimp. Convicted of murdering one of his ‘girls’ he is sentenced to life imprisonment. While in prison he uses the time to educate and ‘remake’ himself and he starts to write.

As a consequence of his success as a writer he is released early from prison and enabled to start a new life. He becomes a celebrity, appearing on television and befriended by intellectuals and socialites. Karl appears to be the perfect example of the reformed man, but is he too good to be true?

Meanwhile a serial killer is preying on street prostitutes.

In the second part of the novel Karl’s narrative continues but now intercut with third person narratives from a variety of other viewpoints. Karl gets a journalistic assignment to report on the serial murders and uses it as an opportunity to criticise police incompetence. Karl himself comes under suspicion and Gustav, the detective hunting the killer, begins to investigate the reality behind Karl’s carefully constructed persona. Gustav’s life of quiet failure contrasts strongly with Karl’s glamorous lifestyle and sexual escapades. Gustav must try and catch the killer while grappling with his own feelings of failure, the impending death of his father and the collapse of his marriage.

Through a series of short contrasting chapters the reader is presented with competing versions of reality. As contradictions and inconsistencies build up the reader experiences the unsettling fracturing of their beliefs and certainties, which replicates in the reading experience the experiences of the characters in the book.

Erase and Rewind explores the messy contradictions at the heart of human nature within a story that, while subverting the serial killer genre, possesses the compelling narrative momentum associated with that genre. It also explores many issues to do with identity and representation while satirising contemporary attitudes to celebrity, fashion and the media.

Download the first thirty pages here

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