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The Goddess Lens by Pascal O’Loughlin

This is the great Irish novel the 21st Century has been waiting for: a visionary, post-metamodernist slice through the times that have lived us. A racing, drug-fuelled vision of underground London as it was, is and will always be. The Goddess Lens artfully twists and melds forms, from folk-horror and sci-fi to noir. The novel’s unforgettable images roll to a soundtrack of Nico, house music and Irish Republican chants. There is nothing else like it.

Pascal O’Loughlin reimagines the 2020 pandemic as a glint in the eye of an ancient Goddess. He replaces mandatory facemasks with Goddess Lenses, and everyone wants a pair. Gay lovers meet in the pages of zines and plants speak from the corners of bedrooms. In virtual reality there’s no need to concern yourself with a sneeze, but watch out for the sublime green jelly.

The Goddess Lens is the strangest and boldest work of queer art since Fassbinder’s Querelle. The greatest horror story about writer’s block since The Shining. The Goddess Lens is the greatest.

Chris McCabe, author of Dedalus and In The Catacombs

If the Celts have nine gods of eloquence, then Pascal O’Loughlin’s voice in his second novel The Goddess Lens exhibits them all. Pop the goddess lens into your eye for a fabulous postmodern trip that makes itself as it’s unmade. There you will be woven into the creative despair, profound insight and helpless joy of a mind on fire.
The Goddess Lens shares its protagonist between Pascal, a fat, Irish, gay novelist and Christine, a lesbian private investigator, both seeking succour from feminine energies—creative, sexual, maternal—pick one, or them all. The novelist, fidgety with doubt and a ‘horror of toil’ consults his ex, Nigel, for editing advice on Christine’s tale, which shifts dizzyingly from her childhood in an orphanage to a lesbian squat, via alien craft harbouring “a green slime of countless genders.” Then comes Lockdown to thicken the dystopia.
O’Loughlin’s imagination is agile, nay aerobic, ensorcelling the reader into a maniacal universe—guarded by a woman named Appetite—which worships spider plants and waits to be restarted by a female deity. But will Pascal be compensated for homophobic abuse by the Catholic Church? “I don’t actually have a real life,” he says. “I live in this story. The story wants to infect the world.”

Cherry Smyth, author of Famished and My Animal, My Age (forthcoming).

31st August 2022