How has Mark Haddon fared after his mega hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? I have been meaning to find out but other books, so many other books have interfered. So now onto A Spot of Bother by Haddon.
Poor, poor George. He wants to settle in and enjoy a quiet retirement. That isn’t going to happen. Life is interfering with George’s hopes. George has built himself a sanctuary, a shed in the backyard but where is the peaceful solitude? Well as long as his wife is having an affair with a colleague, his extraordinarily bad-tempered daughter is going to marry--for the second time--the inappropriate Ray, son Jamie’s relationship with his lover Tony is spinning out of control and George silently worries that rash on his hip might be skin cancer we can’t hold out much hope for a tranquil retirement.
The good news is that according to the doctor the rash is just eczema. The bad news is that George doesn’t believe the doctor and that George’s growing depression is real. He has taken to getting on all fours and hiding behind the furniture. As the marriage plans become more frantic and disruptive A Spot of Bother could have turned into an Ealing version of Father of the Bride (the Spencer Tracy/Elizabeth Taylor version not the too embarrassingly bad to even watch without covering your eyes Steve Martin/Diane Keaton version)but instead it dwindles into a why bother collection of alternately amusing and stilted domestic trials.
So…I guess for me Mark Haddon hasn’t fared well. Too bad. The Curious Incident was such an original book and while Spot has its moments of oddball appeal, it is not a worthwhile follow up to The Curious Incident.
Aside from what A Spot of Bother is or isn't I wonder why Random House didn't change the title for the U.S. edition. A spot of bother is such a very English expression. It is not used over here at all. What is that title supposed to say to American audiences? And. As long as we're on this topic, the cover? I've read the book and I don't get it. Icky.
Oh well. Haddon has a new novel due out soon called, The Red House. This one is due out in June 2012. We will hope for better.