Saturday, April 08, 2006

Prompted by a reference in Shelley Jackon's mixed review (in Bookforum) of Magnus Mills's latest novel, Explorers of the New Century, I went looking for his first book, The Restraint of Beasts. I wasn't disappointed. The Restraint of Beasts, which follows the misadventures of a team of fence builders in Scotland and England, is part Ishiguro (when he's being deadpan, understated, weird, funny -- I'm thinking of When We Were Orphans), part Flann O'Brien (I'm thinking The Third Policeman) and part Monty Python (I'm thinking about the fishtank in The Meaning of Life: Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning...). It's also, of course, not quite any of these. And while at surface the novel is very straightforward, to read it is to discover a devious, tricky, more than just a little scary thing.


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