Friday, March 9, 2012

Where are the badgers?

Book: King of the Badgers

Author: Philip Hensher

Published: 2011 (Faber and Faber)

Pages: 436

Where are the badgers? Show me the badgers. I am not reading about any badgers in here.

Also, decide whether the little girl kidnapping story is the backbone event here or just an excuse to show how gossip works in a small English town. Either way is acceptable, I swear, especially considering how well-written both pieces are. But Checkov's gun does not get waved threateningly without being shot, and the driving subject of secrets shouldn't fade away only to flare up again on television and leave again without comment when the six o' clock news ends.

And about those secrets: uh, I'm pretty sure they're not. If they are, only one does any damage, meaning only one causes any conflict both internal and external, meaning only one actually DOES anything, this one that has nothing to do with the little girl kidnapping.

Why the HELL is there nothing else about the schizophrenic couple who have "neighbourhood watch" meetings that are just them and like five imaginary people the husband pretends to chair? WHAT? That was a BIG REVEAL that could've tied in SO WELL.

Typing this review, I've become uncertain as to why I actually like this book a great deal. I guess reading about all the different well-drawn characters was like nibbling on a box of assorted chocolates, offering a different sort of tasty in each bite while keeping a consistent underlying theme. Except a box of Whitman's tends to congeal into one lump that takes an embarrassingly long time to get out of my system, while this book didn't come together at all in the end. I have no idea what the title means or refers to.

But they baited me by watching Doctor Who in the last scene and talking about it so that between their dialogue and the book's publication date, adjusting for writing time and BBC transatlantic jumps, I've figured it's the series four finale. "Parallel worlds" is a dead giveaway. 

(These are the kinds of calculations I do when I finish a book but there's no time to get into another one before a Hunger Games loaner comes through for me to read before the movie comes out.) 

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