Paul Kavanagh is bizarre - and that is meant as `bizarre' as in unique and refreshing. His method of story telling is simplistically and occultly obtuse and is enhanced by the art of illustrator Alex Chilvers. He obviously has studied the contemporary human condition as it survives on the globe today and in the guise of a rather obvious road trip story he manages to delve deeply into the fractures he finds so patently gaping in the way we are electing (or predetermined) to live our lives. ICEBERG abounds in rich humor, but it is also brimming over with pathos and some terrifying statements (almost whispered) about the manner in which we are existing.
Don and Phoebe live in a backward, lurid, tiny town in Northern England: Don is a painter and Phoebe is a writer and they are dirt poor, burdened by the presence of Don's aged father in the Wilson's Heavenly Nursing Home, and come into ownership of a dog whose bowel control is as lax as his personality. They are at the mercy of a foolish bothersome landlord and in general dangle at the end of a rope of sanity. Their feelings about the world have soured: `To all you parents out there, you do not love your children, you cannot love your children, because if you did you would stop producing airplanes, ships, trains, trucks, cars, motorcycles, cigarettes, televisions, radios, plastic this and plastic that, rubber this and rubber that, teddy bears, booze, lipstick, pushup bras....' But a bit of luck occurs: they win the lottery and the prize is an iceberg. But they must take money from Don's father and strip their savings in order to get to the place where they can mount their new floating home.
Their trip, once started, takes them by foot and by hitchhiking from England, through Holland, France, Spain, and Morocco to the West of Africa where their iceberg home awaits them. They encounter all manner of strange people and philosophies: one driver states `You can look beyond the road at something and you see something beautiful, but you must ask yourself is it really real or just your imagination filling in the blanks that boredom has created.' Finally Don and Phoebe mount their iceberg and their adventures at sea create friendships with dolphins and whales and they drift toward Cuba, Florida and their ideal destiny - New York City. Phoebe's writings begin to emerge - `The kaleidoscope is a paradigm of innocence, an innocence that has truly been lost...What should have been an epoch of great advancements turned out to be a breeding ground for consumers addicted to greed. These sophisticated kids of the void, went inwards, but missed the portal that would have lead them into transcendentalism, to a higher collectiveness....The kaleidoscope as with many other things has been reduced to a toy, a plaything, to be used once and thrown away...'
And that is the way Kavanagh writes - with bite, wit, philosophy, and a big hunk of absurdity and it all works out to be a story whose philosophy seeps into your pores with noticing. He is a very unique artist. Grady Harp, July 12