This is the book review blog of one Moliere Wouldn't, internet nobody and all around procrastinator. If one wishes to fall down the rabbit hole with her, one must only follow this link ---> molierewouldntwritethisshit.tumblr.com
Sherlock Holmes never had to deal with this nonsense.
Times are tough for the men and women of Old Grethwick Police Force. As if one-legged murderers, ghoulish thespians, drug-dealing vicars and human-hating buildings aren't enough to deal with, someone has just made seventy-five politicians disappear. At least that last one has cheered everybody up a bit."
I was at the launch of this book.
It was in Kinsale Bookshop, in Kinsale (surprise, surprise), Cork. It was lashing rain that night, with intermittant bouts of thunder, and all the guests were huddled inside the tiny bookshop, shelthering from the storm and getting progressively more tipsy.
It was crowded, the density of bodies making it over-heated, dispite the icy wild that blew outside. Everyone was wet too, and you could almost see the steam beginning to rise from their clothes.
I'd been to book launches before, and always found them to be quite intellectual, dignified events. But it is perhaps fitting that launch was out of the ordinary. After all, so is the book.
And so is its author.
I was in attendence because I had just started the Theatre Performance course at Kinsale College of Further Education, and Mr. Ian Wild was one of my tutors.
I say "one of". In fact, we only had two. Belinda and Ian Wild, a husband and wife, writer/director team that run the course. Well, Belinda runs it. Ian's a part-time tutor. At the time he was teaching us improvisation.
We'd not been in college long - perhapes a week or two - but already we all loved Ian. He is the sort of man it is almost impossible not to like. Quiet, unasuming and easy-going, he has one of the oddest senses of humor I have ever encountered. When he teaches he goes off on long tangents about absolutely nothing, and it is easy to think he has no idea what he's doing. Yet that's what makes him such a good teacher. He teaches you subliminally, never telling you the answer, simply giving you the tools to find the answer yourself.
This strange, subliminal style is very present in his work. At first glance, 'The Naked Umbrella Thieves' could be seen as an incomprehensible mess of Python-esque surrealism and Poppins!kink, peppered with confusing references to Cyrano de Bergerac. But once you get into the flow of it, it sort of takes you over.
You're no longer confused by the strange imagery, rather, you become charmed by the childlike whimsy. There is a sort of innocence that shines through, a sense of fun, that stops the book ever becoming cynical, even in its most satirical moments. The frequent nudety and slightly less frequent sexual scenes - which in the hands of another writer might feel sordid - have an air of bumbling ineptitude that can't help but charm.
What makes it work so well is the underlying realsim. It would be easy to dismiss this book as nothing more than a surreal farce. Given its content of eloping lost-property cubbords, unexplainable nudity and umbrella theft, it would almost seem logical. But to do that would be to miss the very point of the book.
No matter how mad things get, people just sort of carry on.
Each and every character is so splendidly realised, so grounded in reality. You never once question a single character's actions, because they behave extactly as they would given the circumstances. That may sound obvious, but it's a wonderful thing. Invisible when done right, completely distracting when it's not. And in a book of this nature it is a rare thing to find.
That emotional realism is the glue that holds this wonderfully eccentric book together and makes it truely a joy to read.
Though there was barely room to breathe, let alone move, the party atmosphere could not be quenched. Friends old and new greeted each other with hugs - nearly toppling percariously piled stacks of books - and the stuffy air vibrated with laughter.
When we were just about half way through the boxes of wine that had been provided and had all lost several layers of clothing due to the heat, a children's slide and a paddling pool were produced from somewhere in the back.
The pool was filled, and Ian gave a little speech, before climbing the steps of the slide and, quite literally, launching 'The Naked Umbrella Thieve' into the pool. He then proceeded to read from the sopping wet copy, much to the delight of the crowd.
Afterward W!LD - the band that Ian and Belinda's sons are in - played a set. And as the storm picked up outside, I remember a few of us students grabbing unbrellas which had been abandoned by the door and running out into the street.
It was deserted, given the hour and the conditions, but we could hear the music filtering out from inside. And we danced, and sang, and skipped and laughed and hugged. Completely in love with the story, the storm, with Kinsale, with each other.
Last week we graduated. Said goodbye, perhapes forever, to the patchwork family we've formed over the past two years. It's difficult to let go, to accept that something so perfect must come to an end.
But that is why I'm glad I have 'The Naked Umbrella Thieves'. Because anytime I read it, or hold it, or see it on my book shelf, it reminds me of Ian's tangents, of performing Shakespeare on the beach, of the songs we sang, of Belinda's laugh. It reminds me of dancing in the rain with my friends.
It reminds me of the stories of us. The ones we were told, the ones we created, and the ones that happened around us. The crazy, funny, heatbreaking, rain-soaked, surreal swirl that was the last two years of my life.
And the more I think about it the more parallels I find between those years and the book. We've all lost things we thought it impossible to lose, we've all felt overwhelmed by the strangness of events, we've all - on ocassion - woken up without clothes.
Although I've never found a motorway at the end of the hall.