Monday, 23 September 2019

Mud - Chris McCabe

“Waiter! This coffee tastes like mud.
Very likely, sir, it was only ground this morning.”

I go with gut instinct, going with the flow is old hat. Send me a book. I'll read it. I'll review it. If I can. But this book will review itself, it doesn’t need me. it doesn’t need anyone, except open minds and hearts with spaces to be filled by its words and ideas. Hear this book and listen to Offenbach.  Heart this book. Watch this book and imagine a film, an animation. Heart this book. Hold this book and feel in your hands a perfectly sized collection of word jewellery, real not costume, pearls not swine.  Heart this book. Devour this book and taste its wits and wisdoms. Heart this book. Smell this book and know the glorious sensation of fresh, damp, fertile mud. Heart this book. See buttercups.

When is a novel not a novel. When it is Mud. When is a fiction not a fiction? When it exists more as an art installation to be experienced as well as read. Mud is clay is pottery and sculpture and this book has sat upon the poetry potter’s wheel and rests, kiln fired, in my hands. 

Oh, but there must be some convention maybe? You need to know more? I will tell you in a bubble of blurbishness straight from the Amazonian word forest - 
Borak and Karissa must find a bubble of air buried in the mud, somewhere beneath Hampstead Heath, to end their relationship. On their descent into London's Underworld they are followed by a film crew and its odious Director, documenting their quest as they scour 24 types of mud for an ending. As they chance upon bones, bricks and talking moles, they must restrain themselves from throttling each other, and falling in love all over again. Chris McCabe's macabre version of Orpheus and Eurydice brings its themes into the present day.’

That’s it, in a mudslide, no nut shells here.  There you are. That’s it. No, it isn’t. It’s more. Borak is a wizard. (Are we back to pottery? No, Harry, no.)  Borak is not the greatest wizard when it comes to tricks. Nor is he the greatest trick when it comes to love. But we are looking at a Greek legend. It can’t be changed, it can’t be altered. It can only be modernised, retold with emails and callers on the line and Tinder and lost unicorns and talking moles and music . And sweet Karissa in the underworld of mud. Aren’t we all struggling through our own mudworlds ? So let this book accompany you? On your Tiger Feet. It’s funny and it’s witty and it’s profound and it’s sad.   It's also supposedly "the oddest book of the year". Define odd?  Whatever odd is, I  need odd. We all need odd. Odd does me.  I don’t do spoilers but this book cannot be spoilt. It would be impossible to spoil a book such as this. 

I’m old. Flanders and Swann - 

‘Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me, follow, down to the hollow
And there let us wallow in glorious mud

Wallow in the book. Forever. I heart this book.

Thank you so much, Henningham Family Press, for this copy.