Saturday, December 6, 2008

Squealing at satire

Here's the link to the Radio NZ book review of Brock Clarke's An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. Frankly, I blithered on rather than expounded in a succinct and thoughtful fashion, but you can tell I loved it to bits. I even squealed at one point.
Readers and writers surely love this book for its insights into story and the role of books and the flimsiness of genre (Clarke's novel is a faux-memoir and 'how to' guide which skewers these genres and makes use of them.). And if that doesn't grab readers, surely they're interested in Clarke's anti-hero's take on what he refers to as the Human Condition?

But when I raved to a very nice keen-reading customer along these lines in the bookshop today he listened politely and went off with the Booker winner instead. Maybe he doesn't like satirical novels.

I love them you see. Gulliver's Travels is one of my favourite books of all times. It's that way of looking at the Human Condition with a sharp and comic eye that makes the reader step back amused/provoked/thoughtful, and at the same time provides sudden brief and glowing epiphanies like - well - a match firing. In fact, Clarke's novel has fuller character development than most satires with bumbler arsonist Sam Pulsifer still an insistent voice in my head.

There's a little more on the book in the previous post. I wish, Gondal Girl (who asked), I could write a fuller written review but I simply haven't got the time.


Vanda Symon said...

It sounds terrific.

I see your picometer has snuck up to the 10000 mark! Well done Mary.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary
I too am writing a 100,000 - 120,000 epic for penguin but I've only got till March!! Gulp. Vanda and I are planning a road trip to Wellington late Jan so we should all catch up. I'll be spending time with Fleur who will tell me all the things I need to do with the epic. BTW made it to 13,5000 words today (that's 5,000 since Monday and I'm marking national exams and still teaching - I am mad - yes.

I loved the blog about Elizabeth Knox - like her, I've got enough storylines crammed into my brain to fill a decard.

Now back to Medieval Scotland.
Tania Roxborogh

Mary McCallum said...

Hi Tania, Great to hear you are under contract to Penguin too. Medieval Scotland is intriguing. And re. Elizabeth Knox, she worked flat out to complete the wonderful Dreamquake to deadline. At the school writing festival she said: 'I think I must have written the last 30,000 words of Dreamquake in ten days.' So there you go, it's possible! Good luck with yours - you'll be hard at it over summer then! It would be lovely to meet up in Wellington when you and Vanda hit town.