THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING IN ABERYSTWYTH Paperback – 2005
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Pryce has welded a high level of daffiness to a Raymond-Chandler using and Chandler's overwrought prose. Ingredients in the mix include: Louie Knight, the Bogie-like private detective of a rundown Welsh seaside town (that such a town would have such a detective is a large part of the book's humor). A client who is an organgrinder's monkey with a knack for sign language, seeking her longlost son, Mr. Bojangles. Knight's lost love, Myfanway, a singer of such overwhelming power that she even has her own academic journal (The Journal of the Proceedings of the Myfanway Society). An evil mad genius, Mr. Brainbocs, whose plans include collecting the DNA of Jesus in order to clone him (Him?), bring him back from the dead, and make him perform miracles.
The effect is similar to that provided by Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, a parody-premise wed to a hallucinagenic comic imagination. You will feel positively oxygen-deprived if you spend too much time making sense of it, but it is pretty fun.
I found out too late, though, that this is the THIRD of Pryce's series featuring Louie Knight (the other two bear the promising titles "Aberystwyth Mon Amour" and "Last Tango in Aberystwyth"). The whole thing would have made a lot more sense to me if I had started at the beginning. On the other hand, I sense there are probably diminishing returns on this series - one may be all you want. Go seek out "Aberystwyth Mon Amour", which if more coherent might be worth 4 1/2 stars, but which might then reduce the present volume to a lower rating.
As with the other, the plot is secondary to the bizarre world that is Pryce's Aberystwyth; a world that, at times, strangely reflects our own.