Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my GIFTS AND GUILTY list.
Regardless of how many books are already queued patiently on my reading list, unexpected gifts and guilt-trips will always see unplanned additions muscling their way in at the front.
Let's jump straight in with a quote from somebody else's review:
Ditto, Gertie, ditto!"I was surprised at how much I liked this book" - Gertie
A couple of years back I decided to get all of my immediate family the same present (same-same, but different) - as many second hand books as I could get for £20. I averaged about 7 books each.
My brother got various Mann Booker Prize winners. My Mum got a platter of modern sci-fi and fantasy. My Step-Dad got a selection of humorous fantasy works: this being one of them.
He likes authors like Tom Holt, Robert Rankin and Chris Moore. I wasn't familiar with Tom Robbins (at all, like, zilch recognition) but it kept popping up on Amazon's 'if you like this, you might like...' so I took a punt and chucked it into his birthday bundle.
There were two books he came back to me raving about and thrust into my hands - Lamb and Jitterbug Perfume. Having read one Moore beforehand, I knew what to expect from Lamb, so I breezed through it in while stuck on a plane - and it's a good book. I didn't know what to expect from Jitterbug, so I left it on a shelf... and it kept looking at me...
It's good! Not to put down their own work, but this is the kind of story that Holt & Rankin would kill to write! It's got just as much imagination and whimsy as their zany tales, but a much deeper and more finessed use of theme, and bucketloads more 'blood-on-the-walls' heart to it.
It's a story about immortality, perfume, passion and beets!
Quick tangent:(If you've never heard of British poet/rapper Scroobius Pip, check out the song 'The Beat That My Heart Skips' on youtube - that kept popping into my head (over and over again) as the 'The Beet That My Heat Skips')
It's light hearted and smart, it's fun, funny, and tremendously enjoyable. Robbins knows his way around a sentence and can certainly produce a playful paragraph - the man can write!
I particularly enjoyed Pan, the whale mask, the lesbian not-lover, heaven and the bees. A delightfully incongruous combination of words!
So why not a 5-star?
Because... It's just not quite my thing. It's a bit like watching Friends with the wife - there's no doubt it's entertaining, I don't complain about watching it - but I'd rather be watching Battlestar!
I doubt I'll ever feel the urge to re-read, and if there was a sequel I'm not sure I'd pick it up. We enjoyed our time together, but like a blind-date set-up that seems good in theory, it's clear the chemistry isn't right for a long term relationship.
After this I read: Greywalker