Friday, August 24, 2012

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Now I remember why I liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time so many years ago. Mark Haddon does such a sensitive and funny depiction of people, warts, foibles, and all, that he is addictively readable. We're all a little bit nuts and we're all in this life together, so why not find the humour and the humanity in it? I love Haddon's short, staccato sentences. The better to do his dead-pan humour and one-line zingers. Very refreshing.

At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. 

Then Katie, his unpredictable daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not pleased - as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has 'strangler's hands'. Katie can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the way he cares for her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by the way the wedding planning gets in the way of her affair with one of her husband's former colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials. (back cover)

But jacob wasn't doing recriminations that day. pg107

It felt wrong, going to Dad's bedside. Dad didn't do illness. His own or other people's. He did soldiering on and taking one's mind off things. Dad having a breakdown was in the same category as Dad taking up hairdressing. pg189

Over the intervening years everything seemed to have got louder and brighter and faster and simpler. In another fifty years children would have the attention span of sparrows and no imagination whatsoever. pg197

Dr. Foreman was one of those men who did humour without smiling. He looked like a villain from a James Bond film. It was disconcerting. pg306

'I don't answer the phone. Makes life a lot simpler.' pg340

In his mind, Jamie was introducing Becky to Katie and wondering whether the two of them would become friends for life or spontaneously combust. pg343

He was going to have to stop taking the pills now. And he was going to have to avoid taking any tomorrow. The label on the little brown bottle cautioned against drinking alcohol while taking them. Bugger that. When he sat down after his speech, he was going to drain the first glass that came into his hand. If he passes swiftly into a coma, that was fine by him. pg372

He suggested she go into town to buy another dress and she was about to give him a hard time for thinking all female problems could be solved by shopping, when he said, calmly, 'Buy a new dress. Find a cafe. Sit down with a book and a cup of coffee and come back in a couple of hours and I'll sort everything out here,' and she kissed him and grabbed her bag and ran. pg380


Katja Weinert said...

Sounds like a fascinating study on the craziness of what can be everyday life. I've yet to read The Curious's been on my bookshelf for ages :-/

Katja @ YA's the Word

Trish said...

They are both such good stories. His writing and quirky sense of humour might not be for everyone, but I really enjoy it. I hope you get a chance to read Curious Incident some time soon :)

laughingwolf said...

hmmm... sounds like fun, and i KNOW i'm NOT the tony in the book... strictly woman oriented in my sex life...

but hey, if it turns your crank....