I was somewhat hoping I wouldn’t enjoy this book so that I could entitle the review Marvellous? Hardly! but, alas, it turned out to be a very enjoyable romp through the madcappery of an all too familiar fictitious setting, so, much to my chagrin, I had to think up a whole new review title. Thank you, Mark A. Rayner, for robbing me of that pithy idea. It was going to be really clever.
As most of us have, from time to time, you’ve likely asked yourself the question: What would happen if Carl Hiassen, William Shakespeare, and Kurt Vonnegut got together for a little mead ‘n snuff party, and a story idea emerged from their wondrous and thoroughly pickled collective minds? Well, I’m delighted to let you know that we can now move on to other such ponderables, as Mr. Rayner has provided the answer to that age old question with his new novel Marvellous Hairy.
Rayner opens his story with such an insane commotion that you immediately (and wisely) pause for a moment to fasten your mental seatbelt, steadfast in the knowledge that, for better or worse, you’ve just accepted a ride from a deranged driver – and one who is likely under the influence of more than one illicit substance. I felt it was a quite considerate gesture to let us prepare ourselves up front in this manner, before we hit the freeway in high gear. Respect.
Hairy is narrated in first person quasi-omniscient style (yes, you read that correctly) by the central character — a mostly normal sort of chap named Rob (that is, more normal than his eclectic group of friends and dubious associates). Rob’s ability to ubiquitously relate the story is explained within the pages, and I found this approach to be not only clever and unique but completely reasonable in an unreasonable sort of way.
The story involves, on one level, a bizarre allegorical battle between the separate reptilian, simian, and human parts of the Triune brain, and how we must somehow cope and flourish, not just within our own consciousness but within society as well, while all 3 types are in control of our thoughts and actions at different times, at different levels, and in different circumstances.
It’s also quite a traditional (I really didn’t expect to be using that word in this review) tale of megalomania, the dangers of rampant, unchecked science, the bonds of love and friendship, monkey sex, and the nature of military cacti.
I think that my being any more specific may do the reader a disservice so I’ll leave it there – suffice it to say that Rayner proves to be a masterful story weaver with a gifted imagination and a remarkable wit. If that’s not enough, a deep social conscience lies beneath it all. Those qualities combined provide for an exciting, hilarious and ultimately fulfilling reading experience. Just don’t forget to fasten your seatbelt.
You’ve been warned.
(reviewed the day of purchase)