This book was sent to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.
19.02.19 / Titan Books / Crime-Mystery / Paperback / 304pp / 978-1789090833
Target Audience: Readers who like familiar crime stories with well executed and incredibly interesting twists. Humour, body image, psychological differences and mysterious themes are in abundance alongside a good old fashioned buddy/rival cop-crime narrative.
About Edgar Cantero
Edgar Cantero is a writer and cartoonist from Barcelona who works in Catalan, Spanish, and English. He is the author of The Supernatural Enhancements and is based in New York.
About This Body’s Not Big Enough For The Both Of Us
An office door bears the names of A. Kimrean and Z. Kimrean, Private Eyes. Behind the door there is just one desk, one chair and one scrawny, androgynous detective. A.Z., as they are collectively known, are twin brother and sister. He’s pure misanthropic logic, she’s wild hedonistic creativity. The Kimreans have been locked in mortal battle since they were in utero… which is tricky because they literally share one single body. That’s right. One body, two pilots.
Someone is murdering the sons of a drug cartel boss in the biggest baddest town in California – San Carnal. A.Z. Kimrean must go to the sin-soaked streets, infiltrate the boss’s inner circle, and find out who is targeting his heirs. Plus rescue an undercover cop in too deep, deal with a plucky young stowaway, and face every plot device and break every rule Elmore Leonard wrote before they can crack the case.
This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us is a brilliantly subversive and comic thriller celebrating noir detectives, Die Hard, Fast & Furious, and the worst case of sibling rivalry, that can only come from the mind of Edgar Cantero.
Q&A with Edgar Cantero
What was your inspiration for A.Z. Kimrean and the narrative in TBNBEFBOU?
In late 2010 I began writing a series of super short stories for Spanish satirical magazine El Jueves. The series title was Noir. I chose to stick to one genre because there wasn’t any room for settings or long descriptions, but if you work within the parameters of noir, just a mention to a ceiling fan and the sunlight sifted through the blinders is enough to draw an accurate picture in the reader’s mind. The series lasted twenty weeks, and some characters in This Body (Green Teeth Murdoc and Fiona, the femme fatale) debuted there. I decided I would like to write a whole novel in that vein if I came up with an interesting lead. And a little later I came up with the Kimreans.
Was there much research involved when writing about a character with Chimera Syndrome?
Not that much. I came up with the character after learning about chimerism while wikisurfing one night, but I knew from the beginning that Kimrean’s case would not be bound by realism. Facts get in the way of awesomeness.
Where did your passion and flair for nostalgia and pop culture references/influences come from?
From being there, exposed to it all, I guess. It’s the most ordinary thing—to watch movies, to read books, to play games, and then to acknowledge that the culture you consumed has shaped your own discourse. When highbrow authors in the past used to quote Shakespeare and Euripides they were doing the same, I think.
What was the most challenging part of writing about two incredibly different individuals sharing the same body?
The grammar. This novel is exceptional in that I wrote it first in Spanish, didn’t find a publisher, and later I translated it to English, and each language had its own restrictions to talk about Kimrean. In Spanish, a big obstacle was that adjectives and participles need to agree in gender with their subject (‘he/she is sitting’ = está sentado/sentada), and there is no gender-neutral option. (In everyday language, you just use the masculine, but when referring to Kimrean, this would have implied I was only referring to Adrian, not Zooey.) In the end, this kind of phrase had to be avoided altogether. In English, the problem was pronouns—thank god for singular they. Still, we needed to make sure to introduce the pronoun at a time where there was absolutely no confusion as to who it referred to, so it was tricky.
How long did it take you to write TBNBEFBOU compared to your other satisfyingly refreshing novel Meddling Kids?
The first version, 2012 I’d say it took some five months? I remember it as a quick job, but I was a lot busier then with my civilian job. Meddling Kids took eight.
What is it about writing Crime stories that draws you in the most?
I’m not a big fan of crime at all. It’s an almost unbeatable way to move plots forward, but that’s the only good thing I can say about crime. To tell the truth, I’ve written a lot of mysteries for someone who doesn’t know if they’re doing it right. Every time I write a twist, I wonder if people really didn’t see this coming.
Is there a part of the book that you are particularly proud of? Do you have a favourite quote you can share with us?
When I first translated it to English in 2016, I already foresaw that we would need a new cold opening. —and indeed, it was the first thing my editor made me change. The old one didn’t feature Green Teeth Murdoc, and the action sequence was too similar to another one in Meddling Kids, which I wrote between the Spanish and English versions of This Body. Another thing that had happened between both versions was the first Deadpool film, whose opening scenes I love. So I watched that opening about twenty times, and then I wrote the prologue in This Body. It is the part I’m proudest of. My favorite quote is probably the opening line too. Incidentally, I was introduced to Elmore Leonard’s long-time editor Carole Baron, who liked the line very much. She said Leonard would have probably found it funny too.
It would be unfair not to mention another big part of the book: Ursula, a character that my editor Rob Bloom helped make a lot better than it was. It was clear since the beginning that “the girl” in this story (I’m talking stock characters here, not genders) had to be more than the archetypal femme fatale, because in the prologue it’s already established that in Kimrean’s life femme fatales come and go. My solution was to make the girl a kid, a kid in love, because that was perhaps the only thing that would pose a conflict to the Kimreans. It posed a conflict to the editor too, but I, being your typical bad-boy jester, liked the shock value. However, the truth is that in my original version Ursula didn’t pose a conflict: in the end, she was just another character overshadowed by the Kimreans; she was a straight man (tee hee!) to the Kimreans’ zaniness. After arguing a lot and rewriting her scenes several times, a version came up where Ursula is just as young, and just as in love—but strong enough to stand up to both Adrian and Zooey. I’m really glad Bloom stood up to me on that.
Did you always have your eye set on being a writer/author and what sort of books did you grow up reading?
I always wanted to make fiction. I’ve dabbled in comics (I read a lot of comics) and I would have liked to do film, or video games. I ended up writing books because it’s the thing I can do on my own.
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the writing?
Not really. I’d say reading, movies, games…but that’s like saying that inhaling is my hobby to wind down from all the breathing out.
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
I will recommend a fellow Barcelonan: my friend and former boss at El Jueves Albert Monteys makes this amazing sci-fi comics series, Universe!, on Panel Syndicate. It’s mindblowing and hilarious.
Thank you to Edgar for taking this time to elaborate on your most recent, and most excellent, novel This Body’s Not Big Enough For The Both Of Us. I had a blast with this novel and I actually had a hard time pulling myself away from the intense, zany, entertaining and psychologically testing crime story. AZ Kimrean is an outstanding central character that I couldn’t get enough of. Edgar Cantero is easily one of the mist intriguing and exciting novelist I have come across in my blogging travels and I can’t recommend him enough to a wide array of readers. If you love nostalgia, pop culture, unusual characters and captivating mysteries then I invite you to give both Meddling Kids and This Body’s Not Big Enough For The Both Of Us a go. Thank you for supporting this post.