An incident recounted in the first pages of "The Queue" gives some idea of what the reader can expect:
"The bursar raided his study and found three hundred pairs of soiled boys' underwear in a chest under his bed. And, hidden in a laundry bag, he found 12 lemonade bottles: each overflowing with boys' urine that was still warm. Next morning these bottles were put on display in the assembly hall as a warning to all other members of staff. Then, after the hymn, each boy filed past and those responsible had to claim their urine. I refused and was thrashed by Mr. Kille before the entire school."
Subsequently the narrator flees his school pursued by his murderous and perverted headmaster (epithets which could be applied to most of the book's characters), hooks up with a raddled dachshund called Mary, and embarks on a picaresque journey through London and beyond accompanied by copious amounts of vomit, urine, and excrement. "The Queue" is told in the present tense and episode follows episode with no let-up. At 120 pages it is quite long enough, but this is a very strange and funny read which is further enlivened by Barrow's illustrations.
"The Queue" was finished only a few days before the author's death in a car crash at the age of 22, forty years later it has finally been published. Having read this bizarre novel I am eager to learn more about its author. Fortunately Andrew Barrow, who edited the manuscript (describing it as 'part Beatrix Potter, part Marquis de Sade'), has also written a memoir of his younger brother, Animal Magic: A Brother's Story
; I can't wait to read it.