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lurgee (New Zealand)

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Lives of the Monster Dogs
Lives of the Monster Dogs
by Kirsten Bakis
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dog's breakfast, 25 Oct 2008
Lives Of The Monster Dogs came decked with words like "Dazzling", "Moving", "Brilliant" and so on on its cover. None of which really do justice to the sheer badness of the book within.

You would think that a book about genetically modified, bipedal dogs with the gift of speech arriving in New York could not fail, but it does, rather badly.

It is written in a very flat style and though Kirsten Bakis employs heaps of different narrators (A young New Yorker human, diaries written by the crazed creators of the dogs, letters and papers written by one of the dogs, even the libretto of an opera written by the dogs), none of them are terribly distinctive or interesting. The parts supposedly written by the dogs don't feel very doggy. The parts written by the human, Cleo, are bland. For some reason, we are told what Cleo is wearing every third page or so. WE DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT SHE IS WEARING, WE WANT THE DOGS! But when we get them, we find they are really just as banal as she is.

(ASIDE: Would the only journalist given privileged access to the secret dealings of the dogs, really have titled their first article, "Doggy Style"? Really?)

Even the denouemont is hopelessly fluffed. I won't say more, incase someone is foolhardy enough to try and read this book despite what I have written, but the grand finale did have potential. But not here. Once again, we get inane dialogue and unnecessary descriptioon of Cleo's clothing.

Look, I really wanted to like this, simply because it was such an unusual idea, but I really can't find it in me to give it two stars. Absurd + original + tragic would usually get two stars, but not in this case. Deep apologies to Ms Bakis, and well done on trying something, but please, reconsider the manifests of Cleo's wardrobe.

Jamaica Inc.
Jamaica Inc.
by Tony Sewell
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge this book by its cover, 25 Oct 2008
This review is from: Jamaica Inc. (Paperback)
The cover features an attractive woman, with a gun - so far so good. This reminds me of Nouvelle Vague director Jean Luc Godard's declaration that all you need to make a film is a woman, a gun and a car. One can't hel;p but wonder if James Cameron and Michael Bay agree with Godard - but Jamica Inc has a woman and a gun, which is promising. The cover also declares that this book is "Sex, Power and Vengence, J.A. style!" which lead me to expect a somewhat tawdry and entertaining tale.

In fact, the "story" is actually three seperate short stories, describing the events in the lives of three generations of women, linked by the fact that they are all connected with the same family. The stories are far more thoughtful and less lurid than the salacious cover suggests. I was disgruntled, but not for long. The stories made up for my disappointment.

The first tale in the trilogy details the life of the poor peasant woman who unwittingly founds a dynasty that grows to hold a monopoly of power in Jamaica. The other two stories describe what happens to her descendents - all framed by the consciousness of her grandson, who has risen to be primeminister, as he lies bleeding to death on stage after being shot at a supposed peace concert.

The standard of writing is actually quite good, far higher than the tacky cover would lead you to expect. The first story is very good, though this tends to over-shadow the following. it is strange that Sewell decided to specify that the story is set in Jamacia, as it bears no relation to Jamacian history that I am aware of. It could easily be set on a fictious carribean island and not lose anything.

I am also intruiged about why No Exit Press decision to market this as a cheap and cheerful thriller - maybe they didn't have the faintest idea what to do with it, or maybe they had no faith in their readership, figuring felt no-one would buy it if they described it accurately.

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