Sunday, September 02, 2007

Book Notes: The Weeping Women Hotel by Alexei Sayle

The reviewer who described this book as "refreshingly bonkers" was spot on! It is a most odd book - although it has to be said rather entertaining, often funny, sometimes thought-provoking and uniformly wacky. In fact it is everything that you would expect if you remember anything of Alexei Sayle's bizarre TV shows of the 1980s.

The residents of 'Pointless Park' are engaged in what the cover describes the meaningless task of searching for meaning in a meaningless world. Some of the characters are likeable, some irritating, some frankly grotesque. All of them are pawns in Sayle's satirical parody of life, the scope of which mocks things which virtually every reader will hold dear.

One device which Sayle likes to use is to make a completely pointless character have one stand-out characteristic or saying without which they would be almost invisible. Then he shows how this single thing for which they are noticed is held in utter derision by the rest of the cast of empty people. The character for whom this is most obviously the case, Toby, Sayle has gone on record as saying is autobiographical.

This is a fun book, which is Milliganesque in the way that the line between the mundane and the surreal is arbitrarily imposed and withdrawn. What disappointed was the fact that the reviews were too glowing. What was promised was a masterpiece, what was delivered was a good laugh, with a few pointed moments.

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