Saturday, October 08, 2011

For Review: Little Hands Clapping ~ Dan Rhodes

Another case of judging a book's readability factor by its cover. What did I know about the novel before I read it? A creepy guy living in a museum in Germany, and a host of curious characters.

Little Hands Clapping was this, and with so much more besides. I haven't been more pleasantly surprised by a book in a long time. There is an old creepy guy living in a museum in Germany, that is, a suicide museum. Some visitors stay after closing hours to take advantage of the Practical Methods room. The old guy finds them in the morning, and they are promptly taken away by the neighbouring doctor, so no one ever knows. It's a bizarre set up and it features as the centre for a series of fascinating characters. It's difficult to say too much without giving away too much, because that's how Rhodes does it: there's no gentle easing in, or any ta da moments. Instead, startling revelations are just there, completely ordinary facts of life. There are several 'Wait, he said what?' moments.

Little Hands Clapping is not gruesome or sick or twisted. Well, it is, but not a la American Psycho. This isn't a transgressive kind of read. Actually, it's an adorable novel, flavoured with the kind of darkness that belongs with Roald Dahl, and a touch of Lemony Snicket morbid. And when I say Roald Dahl, I mean 'The Landlady', not George's Marvellous Medicine. This book isn't for kids. One, swearing. Two, sex talk. Three, that fun bit that comes with adulthood that means that things can be better understood.

Basically, Dan Rhodes is a fantastic storyteller. What's more, he can write too. The two talents together make for a very enjoyable read, and I'm that he has mroe fiction out there for me to get too.

- Read in Bangkok, beneath air conditioning.