Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Review - A Spot of Bother

A Spot of Bother
After reading a series of new (2014) books recently, I went back to the shelves and dug out something that I had been meaning to get to for a while: Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother (2006, Doubleday, 354 pages). Haddon first hit the radar screen with the critically acclaimed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I would also like to read, but don't have (making the whole reading thing much more difficult). Which brings us back to A Spot of Bother...

The book is described as a "disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely." It is the story of George Hall, a very proper retired English businessman, and his family. His daughter is getting married (and has relationship problems). His son is gay (and has relationship problems). He is aware that his wife is having an affair with an old colleague (and so he has relationship problems). In the midst of all this, George finds a spot on his hip and decides, all medical evidence to the contrary, that he is dying of cancer. And then things begin to fall apart, and in time, come back together again.

It felt a little contrived at times that everyone in the family was going through a parallel experience of "relationship falls apart and then gets pieced back together again" all at the same time, but I enjoyed the characters and the situations, and there were many times that I found myself laughing out loud. That doesn't happen too often. And the 354 pages went by very quickly.

"Jamie had spent a great deal of time and energy arranging his life precisely as he wanted. Work. Home. Family. Friends. Tony. Exercise. Relaxation. Some compartments you could mix. Katie and Tony. Friends and exercise. But the compartments were there for a reason. It was like a zoo. You could mix chimpanzees and parrots. But take the cages away altogether and you had a bloodbath on your hands." (p. 33)

A very solid 4 stars out of 5.

Books this year: 4
Total pages: 1,404
New authors: 2

Next up is Frederick Busch's Closing Arguments.

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