No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013/32: Alison Wonderland -- Helen Smith

The next day, a little too late to be of any use, the psychic postman writes a message on one of a stack of cheap postcards with views of London he carries with him and he pushes it through Alison’s letterbox. DANGER, he writes, BEWARE. Taron’s mother has taken the precaution of communicating through him in case Taron was listening to loud music yesterday, mistook the words her mother was sending for a subliminal message from the musicians, and ignored them. [loc. 918]

This novel -- which reminded me at some points of Martin Millar, and at other points of Scarlett Thomas, but didn't quite live up to either comparison -- focusses on the eponymous heroine and her best friend Taron, who is ... rather less sweet and supportive than the average Best Friend in fiction. But that's okay, because Alison likes her anyway, and accepts her many flaws.

Which is presumably why Taron ends up accompanying Alison (who's a private detective: highlights of her career include the discovery of stealth crayfish fanciers in Clapham) on a trip to the coast, to investigate an unpleasant case of animal eugenics. Halfway through, their mission morphs into a quest for an abandoned baby, because Taron's mother wants one.

There are some hilarious observations, and Alison's deadpan narrative voice is an excellent counterweight to her occasional lyricism. (On her next-door neighbour, Jeff: "If he ever stops loving me, I’ll have to start loving him to get him back. [loc. 778]) But plot-wise, Alison Wonderland seems to peter out: I didn't feel that anyone's story arc had really ended, though there might've been a glitch or an epiphany in there somewhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment