Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Amberville, by Tim Davys

Tim Davys is a pseudonym. Some say a pseudonym is something you use when you are embarrassed of your current novel, or when your publisher is embarrassed of your last one. Book reviews I read from the Chicago Sun-Times and the San Francisco Chronicle suggest Tim Davys used a pseudonym because it is a Swedish public figure, which means it's one of the following people:

Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem, Dr. Matt Destruction, or Chris Dangerous. Or possibly Björn Borg.

Whichever of the ten famous Swedes it was, Davys wrote a crime drama about stuffed animals. I've never actually read a book from Jasper Fforde's Nursury Crime series, but I read the Thursday Next book that introduced the Nursury Crime palate, as it were, so when I first picked this book up (again, because I was browsing the library shelves when the sisters I was supposed to tutor didn't show up) and read the back, I thought, "Huh, like a Nursury Crimes book."

What I didn't know at the time was that this book is like a Nursury Crimes book after ten Red Bulls and a speedball. Stuffed animals with drug adictions, sexual perversions, and penchants for masochistic violence. Teenaged me would have thought this book was cool because it was iconoclastic to give stuffed animals such base character traits. Adult me thinks this book was cool because of the what the symbolism of it says about the human condition. Teenaged me would have kicked adult me's pretensious ass, but I'm pretty lucky in that the two have never met.

Here's the plot: Eric Bear's shady past life catches up with him, requiring him to do a dangerous, nearly-impossible job to save the life of the rabbit he loves. Eric has a twin brother who was incapable of living in a world that requires you to cheat around the edges. The capacity of good men for evil, and of evil men for good, is explored with a proctoscope. A dramatic ending is left unresolved in the final chapter, which is followed by an epilogue with the smart-ass note, "To be read as needed." But I enjoyed the smart-assedness of it, and it resolved the dramatic ending, so no one got hurt.

I enjoyed this book. The Los Angeles Times review found fault with the translation, but at no point did I find it distracting. There were curious word choices, but even with an English writer I've found them, and I'm usually happier that they're there. Any of the strange turns of phrase could have been true to the original Swedish, so I didn't mind at all.

I don't know that I would read this book a second time, since I've got about 100 books to read on my "read these someday" list. If I could go back in time (and successfully dodge the ass-kicking teenaged me has waiting for me), I would read this book again the first time. I would recommend this book to a friend who enjoyed similiarly quarky novels. I would definitely read the back of the next Tim Davys book I saw. All in all, an enjoyable book with something to say.

Rating: 6 out of 7 giant inflatable monkeys.

1 comment:

  1. ran across your review when i was searching out a decent res cover image for a review. fantastic review, keep up the great work!

    immediately added you to my rss/atom feeds :)
    expect pestering remarks in the future as we seem to share more book tastes than just this.