After a big ship, why not a big shop?
Days, in fact, the department store of the book’s title, is more than just a shop — it is a mammoth temple to Mammon. Everything and anything you could possibly want to buy is available on its shelves. Everything except, perhaps, happiness. That, at least, is what Frank Hubble feels. Frank has been a store detective at Days for thirty-three years and has finally decided to call it quits. The rigours of the job are driving him mad. All that time spent blending into the background means he has begun losing touch with reality. He cannot even see his reflection in mirrors any more. However, on what he fully expects to be his last day at Days, fate has other plans for him, including a war between two adjacent departments that is just about turn incendiary, an internecine struggle among the seven brothers who run the store, and a female shoplifter who seems to like him rather a lot.
Days is at once a satire and an action-adventure novel. I pitched it to my editor as “Blade Runner meets Are You Being Served”?”. Department stores have fascinated me since I was small. My mother’s family used to own one on Oxford Street, and visiting the place as a child I was always impressed by the size of it, amused by the old-fashioned deference of the staff, and intrigued by the intricate network of creaky old lifts and escalators, particularly the private lift that led up to the top-floor boardroom complex. No doubt all of this percolated away inside my brain for years before I decided to write the book. I also wanted to point up the relentless absurdity of consumerism. I hate being thought of as a ‘consumer’. I hate the demeaning connotations of the word. I hate this idea that people have been reduced to nothing more than creatures that exist only to eat and shit, like locusts. In Days, I want to show the idiocy of buying things for buying’s sake. Hence the riots at sales (which in the book are termed “shopping mauls”, ho ho) and the window shoppers who sit all day watching the window displays, mesmerised. I was living in America at the time I wrote the book. I don’t think that’s unconnected with the book’s contents.
Days was short-listed for the 1998 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and was beaten to the prize (as were so many other books that year) by Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow.
- Days [Gollancz (reissue ed.), April 1999] – ISBN 978-1857988413
- Days [J’aiLu (French pbk ed.), April 2007] – ISBN 9782290001660
- Days [Bragelonne(French hbk ed.), January 2005] – ISBN 978-1857988413
- “Sharp, funny and brutal” – The Times
- “Lovegrove deftly tightens his choreography of manic shopping into a modern fable of dystopic retailing” – Times Literary Supplement
- “Read Days in conjunction with J.G. Ballard’s High Rise; there’s the same tight control over progression, and the same congruence of manner and matter, but a far greater emotional depth. Altogether this is a novel of exceptional brilliance” – Chris Gilmore, Interzone
- “Manages to combine elements of Milton, Swift and our own muddled times. Lovegrove provides both first rate entertainment and genuinely impressive social commentary” – Locus
- “Days is dystopian fiction at its best — a horrifying, disquieting read, yet completely gripping” – Angharad Jackson, The Alien Has Landed
- “J.G. Ballard meets the Argos catalogue — excellent” – SFX
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• Filed under Books • 08/11/1997 •