"The Imagination Thief" by Rohan Quine is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people's imaginations and memories. It's about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. A Distinguished Favorite in the NYC Big Book Award 2021, it celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.
Alone in his skyscraper office one night, Jaymi undergoes a transformation that will change his life: he acquires the power to see into others' minds, and then to control and project their thoughts.
Realising the potential of this gift, he hypnotises a media mogul into agreeing to broadcast an electrifying extravaganza of sound and vision emanating from Jaymi, the like of which has never been witnessed before, that will captivate millions. However, one of the mogul's underlings has more subversive plans for milking Jaymi's talent, involving the theft of others' imaginations and intimate memories for commercial gain.
The broadcasting of his visions plunges Jaymi and his best friend Alaia on a journey into the underbelly of Asbury Park - a seaside town once full of life but now half-forgotten. The town's entire oceanfront is now almost a ghost town: ruled by gangsters and drug dealers, headed by Lucan, it is populated by lost souls and the beautiful who have fallen on hard times. Blackmailed into thieving the most private and primal memories and experiences from these people's imaginations, Jaymi discovers a web of secrets and provocations simmering beneath the surface of the town, about to explode.
When a waxwork of Lucan's decapitated head is anonymously planted in his own bar, fear bubbles up, as everyone becomes a suspect in this unforgivable challenge to Lucan's dominance. Then when another provocative waxwork appears - a naked full-body modelling of Lucan's beautiful but tortured lover, Angel - Jaymi knows he must use his own gift to discover the perpetrator before Lucan does.
Delving into and celebrating the most beautiful and extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and love, "The Imagination Thief" is literary fiction, with a touch of magical realism and a dusting of horror. It explores the universal human predicaments of power, beauty, happiness, hopelessness, good and evil.
Keywords: Asbury Park, New York, broadcast, contemporary, dark fantasy, gay, horror, imagination, literary fiction, magical realism, psychic, transgender.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
PART I Ghost town arrival: spotlight with Alaia: 1 A funny turn at the office, 2 The hunt for what my eyes can do, 3 So now I'm on a mission, 4 Sneak peek into a mogul's mind, 5 How to slap a mogul around, 6 My absent default personality, 7 Telling Alaia what's hard to believe, 8 The statue of black sugar, 9 Alaia gets excited, 10 Angles of glamour, 11 Lunch with a shark, 12 Relentless wakefulness in the belfry, 13 The silver van to the ghost town, 14 The smashed violin, 15 Evelyn's tour of the ghost town, 16 Ready for our close-up, 17 "Sound & Vision".
PART II Sunday late: afterglow with Alaia: 18 The warm dome of smile, 19 Flames, Lucan, Kev, 20 Paranoia by the wire-netting fence, 21 Angel's wings in the dive-bar, 22 No enchantment without ordeal, 23 A declaration of war against Lucan, 24 On the sky, that face, 25 The figure in the crowd in the mirror, 26 Shigem and I on the dance-floor, 27 A devoted fan of Alaia and me, 28 Wet green eyes of Pippa in the take-away, 29 Flight from Arverne, 30 The small black toothbrush.
PART III Monday: Alaia learns my subterfuge: 31 We'll all adore you, 32 Evelyn picks imaginations to thieve, 33 Theft one, and how to be ignored, 34 "Big Bang": song of death, 35 Cheap champagne at Evelyn's, 36 Kim's dead suburbia, 37 Flash of weasel eyes through the keyhole, 38 Kim's amber days, 39 Your painted face alive and smiling, 40 Alaia gives me a grilling, 41 It's only a shell, 42 The last music Kim heard before Shigem, 43 Malaysian chilli peppers, 44 The five times I hypnotised someone, 45 A declaration of war against Kev, 46 Another furtive escape, 47 Pippa goes to greet a gentleman caller, 48 Does Lucan hate Shigem?, 49 Theft two, and nattering about bikinis, 50 Unnerving things in Pippa's bedroom.
PART IV Tuesday: Alaia acts too hastily: 51 Evelyn's fling with Flames, 52 Morning picnic with vodka and burning tyres, 53 The meaning of a spotlight, 54 "Big Bang": return of the giant ship, 55 A sighting of the weasel, 56 Lucan's and Angel's sumptuous fight, 57 How Kim met Shigem, 58 How Shigem met Kim, 59 Theft three, and Alaia lands Angel in the shit, 60 Rik's and Evelyn's genius at hang-outs.
PART V Wednesday: I learn Alaia's subterfuge: 61 Alaia bites the bullet and calls Lucan, 62 Pleasure to be you, 63 I puzzle out Alaia's subterfuge, 64 "Big Bang": run to the sun, 65 Home in a nowhere town, 66 Rain on corrugated iron, 67 Overheard through the corn-chips, 68 Movements through the wall.
PART VI Thursday: second spotlight with Alaia: 69 Alaia fakes for two audiences at once, 70 Coldness on the beach, 71 Alaia swirls in decreasing circles, 72 The weasel at the window, 73 A naked Angel on the front path, 74 Golden on the beach for the last time, 75 Attitude on the phone, 76 The pussy-cats lost in translation, 77 Snatching the divine on the corner of the street, 78 Theft four, and Alaia extricates herself, 79 High voltage for Angel, 80 Who could ask for more?, 81 A farcical audition for Rik, 82 The Supreme Ruler and her space-cat, 83 Low-budget snarls in the nightclub.
PART VII Friday: Alaia receding: 84 Angel tries to use me, 85 Lucan spreads poison in the morning, 86 Stared at on an empty beach, 87 Fixing the weasel hunt, 88 An interrupted drama and a dubious portent, 89 Hunting the weasel, 90 Pippa on the brink of no return, 91 My lies about the Mint Man, 92 Alaia slithers out of Lucan's grip, 93 Angel's Baby Doll, 94 Theft five, with suicide and soup-of-the-day.
PART VIII Saturday: Alaia in hiding: 95 Spanish baboons and tiny creatures, 96 An inferior decapitation gesture, 97 Lucan and Angel on the big screen, 98 Porch-geese and Vietnam.
For the headings of mini-chapters 99-120, see https://www.rohanquine.com/the-imagination-thief