Friday, 18 September 2009

the 13 1/2 lives of captain bluebear


Is a book by Walter Moers which I'm currently reading (swapping occasionally for Dawkins' Greatest Show on Earth).

There is a gushing quote from the Telegraph review on the back which starts "Within the first 15 pages I was carried away by the sheer craziness of it all". I'm 100 pages in.. and I still think it's bobbins.

I looked it up on the web tonight in case it was meant for under 11s and Waterstones had just mis-shelved it - apparently not. Not only is it for "all ages" (and it appears to have quite a devoted following) but it is often compared to The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy. I can't help but find that slightly irritating.. Hitchhiker's is a book full of witty insights on human behaviour. Despite the fact it started as a vehicle for various of Douglas Adams' sketches it had several plotlines and many well-developed characters. Arthur Dent particularly was so well characterised you couldn't help but feel an affinity for him. Against this we are to compare a blue bear who is born into a wacky situation before moving into another wacky situation, pausing briefly to describe the new wacky situation before tumbling headlong into, yes, another wacky situation. Not only is that not particularly entertaining, it's easy. Let's see if I can show you what I mean:
I don't remember how I first met the trolls of Hum-da-woo, but my earliest memories were of their warty faces peering in at me in my basket of custard. For reasons unknown to me at the time they took me in as one of their own, combing my feathers and changing my custard regularly. In return they expected me to help hunt for Toffee Wombats on the plains - a task for which I was ideally suited, being a parrot with a sweet tooth and eyes that could see a thousand yards.

Gradually my need for custard became too great for the trolls to satisfy, and after many years of friendship I knew we had to part. The fateful day came when I perched atop the handle of my little custard basket and, with tears in my parrot-eyes, squawked a fond farewell to my carers of many years. Their eyes similarly moist, they turned from me and walked back toward the village - the Toffee Wombats wouldn't hunt themselves after all. Taking a deep breath I picked up my basket in my beak and flew off into the sunset.

Bedazzled by the brightness of the sunset I quickly got lost. I say I got lost, I didn't really know where I was going in the first place, but nonetheless I wasn't going in the direction I had intended and this caused me some anguish. After some hours of not knowing where I was I decided to land. I came to a standstill on a large grey rock. I put my basket down, and preened for a moment. To my deep astonishment, the rock spoke! "Have you no respect?" it boomed, "How dare you stand upon an Elder of the Granite Magisterium?! I, who have beheld the Darkening of The Wonkysocks - I! who single-stonedly thwarted The Army of Miserable Pasties!"
(etc.)

It's train-of-thought nonsense. It's hardly the beginnings of a novel.

I don't know, maybe I'll change my mind in another 100 pages.

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