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John Hartley Williams, Assault on the Clouds, 64pp, £9.00, Shoestring Press

John Hartley Williams has been described as a “lord of misrule” and appropriately his book is much concerned with the abuse of power as well as being marked throughout by a spirit of comic irreverence and surrealist absurdity. Its world is Arboa, a fantasy island of inaccessible peaks, bottomless ravines and endless rain, ruled by a psychotic Emperor with fat arms whose picture adorns packets of Wheat Hallucination Flakes, every one of which contains little plastic effigies of him and his family. His General takes a blowtorch to the face of a too-truthful Painter, and leads the army on manoeuvres … Continue Reading