Thursday, 14 January 2010

Geek Happenings: Books

The Good Fairies of New York

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This week I finished reading Martin Millar’s comic/fantasy The Good Fairies of New York, an earlier novel by the Scottish author of Lonely Werewolf Girl. This one was first published in 1992 and is a lot shorter in length and less accomplished in its prose and overall story. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a lot of weird, subversive, punk fun while being an easy and funny read. It’s just not as well written or smartly plotted or vibrant as LWG.

Two Scottish thimble fairies called Heather and Morag accidentally end up across the pond in New York. The pair are both wannabe punks rebelling against the ancient traditions of their fairy clans by dying their hair and starting a fairy punk band adapting traditional fairy music to a punk style. After accidentally causing havoc in Scotland Heather and Morag flee their home and somehow end up in New York where they meet a couple of humans they deem in need of their special fairy help (they are ‘good’ fairies after all.) One of the humans is Dinnie, an overweight and antisocial young guy who is secretly in love with his neighbour, the sweet, artsy, new age beauty Kerry…who happens to be the other human in need of fairy help. Kerry is desperate to win a local arts fair with her flower alphabet, but she is also secretly very ill with Crohn’s Disease. At the same time Heather and Morag are being tracked by suspicious local Italian and Chinese fairies plus by other Scottish fairies sent to bring them home to face the (traditional) music. And we also have a rebellion brewing by English fairies in Cornwall against the enforced industrialisation of their fairydom by the cruel and despotic Cornish fairy king Tala. Add in the ghost of Johnny Thunders, the dead lead singer of the New York Dolls who has come back to look for his original guitar, and you get one truly bizarre tale. Needless to say all these crazy threads come together as the story goes on. And it is mostly rewarding and a right old laugh.

This is the oddest, most bizarre story about fairies I’ve ever read (although, granted, I haven't read many), being as it is full of punk music, bloody fights, fairy sex, human pornography, colostomy bags plus lots more equally freaky stuff. But, as with Lonely Werewolf Girl, Martin Millar writes great characters and has a wonderful knack for offbeat, surreal humour. I laughed out loud a fair bit reading this, though not as much as with Lonely Werewolf Girl. A fun and freaky book but it just has a few too many different story strands to keep track of and the prose is rather more basic than that of Lonely Werewolf Girl. Good but not great.

A Little Princess

Having recently rewatched the wonderful 1995 film of A Little Princess I’ve gone and bought a new edition of the original novel. It is a classic and I’m really curious how it works as a book in contrast to the brilliant but altered Alfonso Cuaron film that I adore. As I type I'm about ten pages in to chapter one and it is beautifully written taking its time to set up the character of Sara who is currently on her way to the school with her father.

I have a few other books on the pile to read too, including another Martin Millar one called Lux the Poet. And I really have to get around to reading I Am Legend, don't I Dawn?

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