Mr Thundermug by Cornelius Medvei had my undivided attention this morning and I have to write about it this minute because it had a very immediate impact.
Perplexed and vexed is me when people invest obscure meaning into a book when I can't see it myself and I could be in great danger of doing just that with Mr Thundermug so please forgive anything that leans towards pretentious claptrap in this post but this book was two for the price of one for me.
A very clever and neatly well written book about far more than monkeys in my eyes and a whole load of cliche-ridden stuff from me won't really do it justice.Read it for yourself and see what you think.
But that won't let you off the hook, here are my thoughts on a book that could be read as a parable for our times.So for me this is about difference and how we as a society deal with it and about how those who are different feel torn between trying to be themselves and being compelled to conform and I see it every working day.
Add in being disempowered and disadvantaged plus homelessness, displacement, authority, being judged, living by the rules, who decides the rules, who says those rules are right? It's all in there, this is life on the streets from a different and very unusual perspective.
Cornelius Medvei has reduced man to his lowest common denominator, his basic primeval state, on the face of it less than human but actually very human, possibly more than human, and then worked from there.
Mr T does his best, puts a roof over his family's head, feeds them, gets angry, is misunderstood, tries to conform but nobody has explained the rules to him so he can't quite get it right.
And he has to deal with bureaucracy, plenty of it and I meet plenty of lovely people with the drawer full of unread but very important mail, all because their inability to read places them outside the system and their shame renders them incapable of letting on.Nobody has explained the rules to them either and life becomes increasingly impossible and they are judged heavily on their failings. Then just as they grasp the rules the goalposts move and hey presto, back to the beginning.
This is a book about misfits and how we judge them and there is so much to dissect in these 105 pages that a reading group would be at it for ever.
You might see it all completely differently and that's the joy of a book, it's all in the context and the life experience you bring to the pages. For me it was a wonder of a read and as it was generously donated to my cause I offered to pass it on but I'm sorry, I can't, I have to keep it. Besides, I've written all over it and I suspect every subsequent read will reveal just a little bit more and I'll write more.
Worry not, Susan Hill has more free copies ready for dispatch, head to her blog now and reserve yours.One day perhaps she'll back a turkey,but not at this rate, the baboon's a winner.
Last word to Carol Ann Duffy, these little ode from The World's Wife was ringing in my head as I read Mr Thundermug
7 April 1852
Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him -
Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you