Book Review – Razorback by Carter Ettore

First published, 2020

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The story follows Leon, an opinionated, drinking, smoking philosopher as he devotes a large number of his waking hours to the consideration and analysis of his neighbours, other people’s relationships, the mascots of aquarium-based restaurants, and his own bodily functions. But as his life falls apart, will Leon even notice? And if he does, how will he cope?

I wanted to like this book more than I did. Sadly, it was overly verbose, with simple enough scenes cluttered up with extraneous language which just made it harder to visualise. Although perhaps not designed to make the reader feel stupid, it did take me two or three passes of most sentences to get the gist of them, which was very frustrating.

There is a school of thought that suggests that if you are articulate and well-spoken enough, you can do as many lavatorial jokes as you like. (Generally, this is true. I went to a Masons’ lunch once, surrounded by the people I believed ran the country and I’ve never heard so many fart jokes in my life.) The trouble with this book is, although filled to the brim with bodily humour, by the time you’ve figured out a the sentence, it’s no longer funny.

For example (because maybe it’s just me), this scene, where the main character, Leon, desperately needs to find a bathroom:

“By now, the expansion of interior dimensions was causing Leon to adopt a particular pose of intentional reverse scoliosis wherein, as he plodded along, he arched his spine as tall and to the rear as possible – to make room for the ever-inflating piss mass in his guts – while espousing the ambulatory quality of a mating flamingo to keep it all from prematurely spilling out.”
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At times, a turn of phrase or momentary thought becomes a source of obsession for the protagonist. When acting as Best Man, one of the other groomsmen describes the bride as having a ‘crazy ass’ which, as Leon warms to this theme, he renames ‘the Charles Manson of asses. Hiding beneath the sleek veneer of that wedding dress, like the leader of a ritual ass murder cult in the folds of a fledgling Southern California pop music scene. If Dana’s ass had a forehead, it would have a swastika branded into its front, with a brain full of the devil’s details in the bubbling behind. Whatever that ass did in the world, it could not be held accountable, because unlike other asses, that particular ass had absolutely no perception of right or wrong.”
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I’ve marked it as one to reread in ten years’ time in case I’m smarter or my brain has changed the way it works by then.