Right I'm posting this and by the time you read it I'll hopefully have left the country which is probably wise.
I'm completely bamboozled again, this time over Hospital by Toby Litt as Jess over at The Book Bar warned me I might be and I've taken a vote with myself and elected to stop reading it at p298 because sad cliche though it is, life really is too short and I think I'm just too long in the tooth for this book, even given the fact mine is a very broad-minded nursing tooth.
You bright young twenty-thirty somethings can embrace this one but I'm out.
Unfinished, therefore whatever I write can't offend anyone, because they can now say that things take a different turn on p299 and I'm the loser.
What a strange, bizarre surreal book and I can't decide whether it's a case of emperor's new clothes or cutting edge contemporary literary fiction?
A work of staggering genius or a complete load of old rubbish?
The product of a tortured mind or someone who has bizarre dreams?
Whatever I'm definitely in need of treatment myself because I was worryingly transfixed by it in that rubber-necking way that has you shamedly watching gruesome events unfold. I think it was the nurse in me that kept me reading on and on through ghastly scenes of slightly unreal medical mayhem blended with satanic ritual, headless babies, voodoo in the basement and a touch of Mills & Boon thrown in. It's relentlessy ghastly and vile, there are no other words for it and I hesitate to call it literature but I fully expect others will be fulsome in their praise.
It was all compounded by the presence of senior surgeon Sir Reginald St Hellier.
I had my appendix out in St Helier hospital in Carshalton back in 1970, a week after my O Levels had finished. I thought I'd eaten too many strawberries actually but I was wrong and fortunately for me my mum also disagreed with my self-diagnosis.Every time I heard the name Sir Reginald St Hellier I was reminded of sitting up in bed feeling wretched, listening to Wimbledon on hospital headphones and trying to figure out who'd just hit the ball because radio commentary used to be sparse...clunk - clunk - grunt - clunkclunkclunk- CLUUUUNCK - great smash there from John Newcombe.
I wouldn't even like to try and second guess possible hidden meanings or be so daft as to gush intelligently on what Hospital is really about and I'm not even sure whether to recommend it to you as a readable book or not.
I didn't actually hate it but in the end hated myself for reading it and by just over halfway I'd had enough especially as it looked like more of the same to come.
If you do decide to read it you'll need a strong and preferably empty stomach, though after a while you'll be fine to raid the fridge and eat raw liver sandwiches with grated pancreas and a drizzle of bile.You become so immune to the horrors, because it so cannot be real, that the next time a pickled specimen comes to life or another body gets sawn into pieces or heads get chopped off you start to accept it all as completely normal for this particular hospital.
All very worrying if only for the realisation at how easy constant exposure to horrors can make you immune to them.
But it wasn't real was it? So it doesn't really matter does it?
Do also bear in mind that if you enjoy hospital drama this is nothing like One Pair of Feet by Monica Dickens.
Do you ever wish you'd never read a book? Could somehow unread the horrors that you've read no matter how tongue in cheek or spoof they may be? It may be some time before I'll be ready for another Toby Litt, but when I am I think I'll probably approach it all with an open mind and not hold Hospital against him.
I've suddenly had a very worrying thought; the Booker long list will be out soon...surely not...no they wouldn't...
Meanwhile I think I deserve a medal for reading 298 pages or at least a complimentary session with a counsellor....or perhaps a holiday will suffice, see you all soon.
It's all yours Offspringette!