Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wow! I have such a crush on this book. I heart Mr. Toppit and I want everyone else to as well.
Picture if you will my friend the lives of A.A. Milne and J.K. Rowling and the immense success of their immortal creations all mixed together with just a touch of Hamlet. You get a funny and dark casserole of cleverness, Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton. I remember reading that after having his childhood mined by his Father, the grown up Christopher Robin Milne said that, "My Father got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders." That quote popped into my head more than once while reading this novel. It is humorous, distressing and sums up the heart of the Hayman family story.
Mr Toppit is the mysterious, menacing creation of Arthur Hayman. Hayman is the author of a series of children's books, The Hayseed Chronicles. The Chronicles were fated to stay tucked away in obscurity and jumble sales until Arthur is killed in a traffic accident. After meeting a cement truck his final few minutes are spent with passing American tourist Laurie Chow. Chow is the embodiment of American access. She is obese, constantly "on" and overly connected. Laurie is the catalyst with her own agenda that brings the beyond-your-wildest-expectations monetary prosperity to the Hayman family via her pushing the books. The Hayseed Chronicles become a global, money spewing, obsessive fan creating juggernaut. Meanwhile Arthur's widow and children struggle with the fame and rewards: Mrs Hayman's alcoholism, son Luke's loathing of his thinly disguised self as the book's hero and daughter Rebecca's anguish at her exclusion from the books. Then there are also the agents, the movie moguls, the media specialists, the product tie marketers, the fans, the fans and the fans.
~~sigh~~ I'm getting all misty eyed remembering how much I flipped over this novel. I ate it up. In Mr. Toppit Charles Elton has completely captured the frenzy that can accompany unbridled success. There is a wealth of story in Mr. Toppit to satisfy and enthrall. This novel is a comic heartbreaker. Read it and relish it.