What is "Metaliterature"? It is literature about literature, in this case, views, reviews, and thoughts provoked by stuff I've read. I'm hoping this might be a chronicle of the brain of a life-long reader as guided by intertextual coincidence. If you like what you read, read what I like.
Currently domiciled in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Search This Blog
The Radleys by Matt Haig
No werewolves in sight...
To review this book, another long-held and seldom contemplated work
brought to the forefront of the consciousness by the persistent presence of the
author on somemicro-blogging
siteor other, without first making clear a
disclaimer for said review would be unjust, and I'm just the sort of chap to be
completely unjust, just for the sake of it. And also for the cheap laughs.
Therefore, before continuing, I must state the following:
1. This book has teenage
vampires in it
2. It is also ostensibly
a book for teenagers
3. The author of this
book writes other books for teenagers
4. I made a mistake in
reading this book
Number 4 could well do with a quick explanation. I regret nothing,
except that I appear to have wilfully disregarded the majority of publicity
that I had read both about the book and the author, and was at first surprised
by numbers 1 to 3, and then disappointed that I hadn't remembered that I already
knew all this.
And yet I persevered! I don’t just give up because my brain
malfunctioned, oh no! And what I found on continuing to read was a slick,
televisual teenage novel about things like growing up feeling different, fitting
in, power without responsibility, and love, lots of foamy, churning,
eye-watering teenage love. And vampires.
So, the premise is that vampires (no sparkly-skinned, mouth-open, wooden
acting nonsense here no siree bob) are real, live alongside humans in places
like Manchester, and are gently policed by a sinister shadow society that makes
sure blood is available for the thirsty and murderous rampages are a thing of
the past, in close collaboration with the Unnamed Predator Unit of the Greater
Manchester Police. However, the eponymous family of vampires (sorry,
unavoidable spoiler here but after two pages I’m pretty sure it would have
become obvious even to a thirteen year old) has a naughty uncle called Will who
carries on regardless. When the thirst hits the daughter and she [CENSORED FOR
YOUNGER READERS] Pete “Vampire Papa” Radley calls on him to come sort it out.
Cue all sorts of family discord and complications.
There’s lots going on, and in an adult novel I think could have been
developed more fully into something deeper, darker and naughtier. However, not
having read a novel for a teenage audience since I was about 10 (Lord of the Rings
doesn’t count - I don’t think a teenager would sit still long enough to get
clear of the terrifyingly dull first 100 pages these days so it can rest easy
in the adult beardy weirdo genre*) it was still surprisingly deep, dark and
naughty. I certainly won’t be recommending it to my 2 year old anytime soon.
Nonetheless, it lacked sophistication, from my jaded world-weary point of view,
and plot twists were clearly signposted for a younger audience, rendering it
less satisfying. But then I can’t remember being a teenager (those years are
nebulous and mystifying – certainly a possible side-effect of heavy drinking
towards the end there) so perhaps I would have lapped it up.
To give credit where it’s due, it’s a good, flowing read, and conjures
images to mind almost like it was written for television. Thankfully it also
steers clear of the turgid tripe of those other vampire novels (I blame Anne
Rice) and is pretty well believable. But whether verisimilitude is a sought-after
quality in fantasy horror for teens is another matter. You may decide for
*I probably do beardy weirdoes a disservice, for would that I was able
to grow a beard I too would probably sport one and thus become a weirdo myself.
However, I don’t so they are fair game.
Many (many) years ago, when I first read War With The Newts, after scouring the Waterstones' internal database (whimsically named Ibid, and from which one could print the details of books onto the till roll in light- and so it seems, time-sensitive purple ink which, on the inches thick ream of leaves I printed for future perusal, faded within a few months rendering my catalogued wish list so much locker mulch) for authors with a suitably Czech-sounding name, having put away an entrée of my first slim Hrabal, a palate-cleansing Kundera and in need of a meaty Moravian main course, I think I might have completely and totally missed just how funny it was, bloated as I was by the doughy and Victorian-sounding translation and the rather unlikely ideation of the future political terroir of mankind and their unusual amphibian slaves and, latterly, sappers, the newts.
How's that for a sentence David Foster Wallace? INTERROBANG.
Well, there's no chance that Čapek's typically Czech…
Trav is back, still grieving the loss of some chickadee or other whose death almost knocked him off his game, but not too shook up to set himself up with a few more lucky lovelies whilst tripping his way through another overly complicated and rather sordidly underwhelming plot. This time, some bikers are making dirty movies with minors on the set of a future classic hot-air-balloon movie. Travis falls into the action because a rich old geyser carks it in unusual circumstances and it affects the trust fund of a former marina-mate. And hirsute intellectual Meyer wets his pants towards the end.
You may sense a fatigued, sardonic note in my precis. It's not that I don't still love John D., it's just that after embarking on the long game that is reading the entire Travis McGee oeuvre, I'm approaching the end and it feels long overdue. It's been fun, it's been enlightening, but it's also been a schlep. With the realisation I might now have fewer years left to me …
If there was a comfort-food version of a book for me, then this would be it. It's funny, touching, humanistic, and features so many quotable quotes that its trim 120 pages could be represented in its entirety on some such authors' quotations page.
We're introduced to Tiny on the occasion of his mother's death, lured into a treacherously fatal situation by, of all things, a duck, while her 4-year-old son sleeps in the car where he wakes to a terrifying solitude. Meanwhile, we're treated to a potted but entertaining history of Granddaddy Jake, Tiny's grandfather, into whose care by fair means or foul (no pun intended) he is finally placed. But the titular Fup duck comes along only once Tiny is fully grown (and how!). A lost and lonely duckling, much like Tiny, she's discovered shivering in a freshly dug post hole, which betrays the attention paid to it by Tiny's nemesis, a wild hog called Lockjaw, who enjoys tearing up Tiny's fences just as much as he …