Pixies and fruitcakes Red-Rose Chain by Jeffrey Moore 400 pp, Weidenfeld Jeffrey Moore’s first novel has a pixie-led plot, fruitcake y characters, and a prose that can only be described as dizzying. It gets off to a capricious start, with Jeremy Davenant’s Uncle Gerard blindfolding the young Jeremy and inviting him to pick a book from his library. “Listen to the voices inside you,” instructs Gerard – who is himself at the time wearing an African mask. Jeremy obliges, and is then instructed to tear a page from the book. This becomes Jeremy’s “magic leaf”, the page that will determine his destiny. The chosen book turns out to be a rather exotic encyclopaedia, and the ripped page contains entries beginning with “Sha.” Jeremy’s destiny is therefore to be in some way determined by the influence of the Zulu chieftain Shaka, the Indian erotic drama of Shakuntala, a Ukrainian coal-mining town called Shaktyorsk, and good old Shakespeare.
What follows is part romance, part murder-mystery, and part satire – basically, a wandering sequence of events featuring a grown-up Jeremy as a lecturer at a university in Montreal, supported by a cast of richly eccentric characters with names such as Ralph Stilton and Drew B ludd (of the band High Mass of the Funky Ass).
The increasingly flaky Uncle Gerard makes a number of fleeting appearances. Jeremy falls in love with – or believes he is destined to fall in love with – a mysterious woman, a Czech-Indian-Irish-Canadian, with hairy armpits, and “a night-black thunder-cloud that hung over her eyes.” The woman is called Milena and is a kind of urban post-feminist 21 st-century multi-cultural Dark Lady of the Sonnets. She has secrets. There’s hardly any breathing space in the book at all, it’s so full of quirks and quick-turns, wit and erudition. Entertaining and exhausting, it’s reminiscent of the early John Irving.
Fahrenheit 451: Books - A Part of Our Past One of the biggest issues raised in this book was the idea that people are starting to forget more about books and what they mean. People have started to take books for granted, instead of reading books they watch a movie or a program on the television. People do not realize that books, scrolls, manuscripts are a big part of our past. Since the beginning ...
When Jeremy passes by a tramp o the street, for example, even the tramp can’t let him go without claiming to be a “Prophet from Pluto and a follower of Kull a, the Sumerian god of bricks.” Milena describes Jeremy as “a die-hard delusion ist, a hopeless fantasist” – and there are many other similarities, one suspects, between the author and his hapless hero… Ian Sansom is the author of The Truth About Babies (Granta).