Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Spot of Bother

My most recent read was A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. I was able to get it as an advanced paperback from QPB. I started it last Thursday evening, was eager for more on Friday, but had to restrain myself as we had guests for dinner and it wasn’t very socially appropriate for me to ditch them in favor of a book. I finished the entire thing in one sitting on Saturday. With my husband away for the day, that left me and our cat to indulge in some much-needed R&R. In my opinion, there are few things better than snuggling up on the couch with my cat, a cup of tea and a good book.

Mark Haddon’s quirky, flawed characters (they remind me of those in Nick Hornby’s novels) have a way of grasping and holding my attention. I can’t wait to find out what problems will happen next and how they will react and respond. A Spot of Bother is about family, relationships and communication, or rather the lack thereof.

Everyone should be able to identify with at least one of the characters and if not, you are way too perfect, which I find highly suspicious. These characters are all so human, imperfect and funny without even meaning to be. They have misconceptions of one another, things are left unsaid or unnoticed and arguments happen as a result of this. The family patriarch, George, prides himself on ignoring unpleasantness:

Talking was, in George’s opinion, overrated. You could not turn the television on these days without seeing someone discussing their adoption or explaining why they had stabbed their husband. Not that he was averse to talking. Talking was one of life’s pleasures. […] But it did not change anything.
The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely. How anyone could work in the same office for ten years on or bring up children without putting certain thoughts permanently to the back of their mind was beyond him. (4)

George’s problems begin once he retires and realizes that this may not be the ideal way of living life. But he’s not the only one in the family with issues; his entire family is struggling to find happiness. His son, Jamie, is in a similar situation:

Jamie could see now, with absolute clarity, what he’d done.
He’d bided his time. He’d got away. He’d built a little world in which he felt safe. And it was orbiting far out, unconnected to anyone. It was cold and it was dark and he had no idea how to make it swing back toward the sun. (230)

This may not sound too uplifting, but Mark Haddon makes family dysfunction fun and mental breakdown both poignant and comical. I highly recommend! Mark Haddon’s first novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is equally enjoyable and original.


Shannon said...

You know? I almost picked Mansfield Park when I was making my choices for the challenge! Welcome to blog world! It's a great place. You meet a lot of fun people, and I thought it'd be a great way to share my love of the written word,and see what other's are reading, and see if I can feed my addiction...LOL

Good luck on your challenge(s)!