|God was a polar bear named Bob?|
What does that tell you about Carroll? That he has a gift for reminding us of the ubiquitousness of the human experience? That he tells us we should trust ourselves, work hard at love, enjoy the wonder of life and not over-think things? That he sees there is poetry in a slice of chocolate cake, a shop window, a name carved on a tree? All of the above. In addition, he writes simply of complex things, creates impossible worlds in which you just have to believe, and uses vaguely oblique references and metaphors to make the most profound and startling suggestions about the world and our perceptions of it, our relationship with it and each other, and our often blinkered and ignorant solipsism.
Each character in Glass Soup, lovers Vincent and Isabelle, friends Flora and Leni, conjured memories Broximon, Bob the polar bear, even the octopus driving the bus, serves a deeper purpose, pushes the story to its climax and revelations, and does so with surprisingly biting humour and an astonishingly casual panache. This novel is ridiculous, daft, bonkers, and wonderful, and if I don't appear to have said much about it, that is because I am still working out what to feel; something that is guaranteed to keep a novel in my thoughts and heart for a long, long time to come.