Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Ten Sorry Tales by Mick Jackson: a review

I don't often review books on here. There are many reasons for that, not least because I don't often get round to buying new books (as my Wish List on Amazon will testify), and there are much better reviewers out there than me. However, sometimes I'm so excited/moved/fascinated by a book, I just have to leap up and down and tell you all about it.

This particular book - Ten Sorry Tales by Mick Jackson - is one of those books. It was first published in 2005, so you may have already read it. It's a collection of ten short stories, and they are so surreal and Roald Dahl-esque that I had to Google Mick Jackson to find out whether I was actually reading a children's book. As it turns out, it's perfect for both adults and children - I found my copy in the Adult section of the library.

Last night I read two of the stories. The Lepidoctor is about a boy who collects very strange things, and happens across a Victorian lepidoctor's equipment. A lepidoctor, if you don't know, is someone who resurrects butterflies, which is fortuitous as there's a new butterfly exhibit in the local museum.

Hermit Wanted is about a wealthy couple who discover a cave on their vast estate and decide to employ a hermit to occupy it.

Both of these are charming and heartwarming stories, albeit in a slightly macabre way. I haven't finished all the stories yet - each one needs to be read and savoured, much like a really good box of Belgian chocolates. The whole book is a perfect example of how you can take a perfectly reasonable and tangible idea, but expand it beyond reality, just a little. Which inevitably makes you think that perhaps there really is a bored pensioner sitting in his newly-built rowing boat, paddling back and forth in his flooded cellar (A Row-Boat in the Cellar).

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