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The Fetish Room: The Education of a Naturalist
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
As in Stalin Ate My Homework, another recently published biography of an estimable British eccentric, Redmond O'Hanlon's character has been formed in no small part by impossible parents. However Redmond, like Alexei, never entirely rejects them. This despite the fact that while he is at college they visit only to burn his beloved books. So we understand when he says he has to pretend he has no parents in order to be able to write at all. We also learn how he writes at night - when books 'come alive'.

This book is a treat for we the O'Hanlon tribe. Rudi Rotthier is skillful and sympathetic to O'Hanlon, both the man and the voice. We learn about Redmond's upbringing as we are whisked with the bewhiskered one on a chaotic trip across Southern England to visit sites of his life: his father's vicarage, Marlborough College, Avebury, Salisbury, the Times Literary Supplement offices in London. Hearing aids are lost, a dental plate tested by pub grub, a biblical flood of wine and pints of Old Tripp are downed. A camera film is loaded but never used. Thankfully we are spared none of Redmond's spurious yet splendid tall tales and theories. He makes us aware that we have only really scratched the surface of knowledge. The world is swarming with ideas to be tested, discoveries out there.

Darwin symbolises Redmond's split with the ideas of his vicar father and our trip ends with a visit to the great man's home - now, according to Redmond, feeling like a museum rather than the house it still felt within living memory. Oddly though we get just a single name check of another O'Hanlon hero, Joseph Conrad. Hopefully this primary omission is fortunate; there's plenty more of dear old Redso to be chipped away at yet.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2012
I've greatly enjoyed Redmond's four books based on his travels, but this is a poor substitute for a fifth book, but possibly the best we can hope for given that he says he has given up writing. It's reassuringly sympathetic to the man, and there is a good deal of interest relating to O'Hanlon's historical origins, his behaviour and other diversions that provide the O'Hanlon watcher with interesting material. But it's short and - in contrast to the epic journeys undertaken by O'Hanlon himself - staggeringly unambitious. It revolves around a series of short trips that the author and O'Hanlon make to significant sites that have featured in his life - public school, rectories, that sort of thing. It really doesn't get going, and there is an absence of any kind of dramatic impetus. In fact, it struck me that it's rather like a long magazine article. Please come out of retirement, Redmond!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2013
I'm a big, big fan of several of O'Hanlon's books, but I wonder if his good writing years are gone; just as Trawler, this one is nowhere near as interesting, funny, or well written as his older books. I hope I'm wrong...
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2011
Contrary to the previous reviewer, I found this book incredibly dull, having never read a book by O'Hanlon I was tempted to buy this by a glowing review i na weekend supplement. We learn that O'Hanlon is an overweight, muddled, 60-years going more like 80-year old, who has little of interest left to say. The supposed Road Journey is about as dull as they come, do I need to know how boring the southern UK is when visited slowly by a prematurely aged man, or perhaps a couple of prematurely aged men? What more can I say except I would like my money back!
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