Sunday, June 02, 2013

A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon

I think I'm in love.

This book is one of the funniest I've read in ages. It takes some time to sink in, yes. It takes some time to get used to the wry prose, the wit, the dry descriptions. And then it hits you. And then you're laughing out aloud, startling the person sitting next to you and causing her to look at you like you're crazy.

The thing is, this book has no right to be as funny as it is. It's the story of a man who is slowly losing his mind because he thinks the lesion on his hip is cancer. His wife is cheating on him with one of his ex-colleagues. His daughter is marrying a man she's not in love with - just because he takes care of her son well. His son is gay - something he doesn't approve of.

And yet. And yet, and yet, and yet. You find yourself laughing out aloud. At the absurd things that happen - and more importantly, the wry descriptions of the absurd things that happen.

Okay. I find I can't really say much more about the book than how funny it is. Read it for yourself and find out. Here's a sample. George, our hero, is trying to run away from his daughter's wedding:


He was halfway across the field by the railway line, however, when he saw Eileen and Ronnie heading towards him. They were hoisting their dog over the stile and he was fairly sure they had not noticed him. He crept into the depression by the hawthorne so that he was out of their line of sight.

The dog was barking.

He could not retrace his steps without being seen, and a bank of brambles prevented him crossing the railway line itself. His chest tightened.

His arm was still bleeding where he had bitten it.

The barking got louder.

He lay down and rolled into the shallow drainage ditch where the grass dipped before going under the fence. His coat was green. If he lay still they might not find him.

It was snug in the ditch, and surprisingly comfortable. Interesting, too, to find himself looking at nature from so close up, something he had not done since he was a small boy. There must have been forty or fifty species of plants within his reach. And he knew the names of none. Except the nettles. Assuming they were nettles. And the cow parsley. Assuming it was cow parsley.
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