The rinky dink poodle,
This review is from: Night at the Pink Poodle (Paperback)
A Night At The Pink Poodle tries to position itself as the definitive Gold Coast novel. The Gold Coast, for those who have never been, is a strip of tawdriness some 60km in length along the Queensland coast but seldom more than a few blocks wide. There are gleaming new high rise apartment blocks, theme parks, seedy and run down motels, awful restaurants, noisy bars and half the retirees in Australia. It’s hideous to the point that the hideousness becomes sort of cool. Maybe.
The Gold Coast is also famous for some of the worst spivs in Australia – known as white shoers after their predilection for white leather dress shoes – who spruik real estate built of cardboard on shifting sands. They judge one another by the newness of their shiny cars and the expensiveness of their horrible shiny suits and chunky gold watches.
However, Matthew Condon misses the mark completely in A Night At The Pink Poodle. Ostensibly about a white shoer, our property salesman Icarus seems surprisingly normal and, at times, quite thoughtful. Sure, he treats his girlfriend Jordan quite badly, but then she probably deserves it. But the grotesqueness of the avarice, double dealing and bad taste seldom shines through. The setting could almost be anywhere given that it never feels real. This is a pity because the Gold Coast should make for a treasure trove of description.
The structure is more like a series of short stories, albeit ones that have an occasional strand of continuity brought into a subsequent story. The result is choppy, made all the more so by the failure of many of the stories to have a resolution. Occasionally the outcome of a precarious situation will be built into a throw-away sentence in a future chapter, but many are just left hanging. The overall narrative is supposed to hang on the relationship between Icarus and his erstwhile schoolfriend Tin-Head who is living with some form of profound brain damage. But this narrative line – after which the book is named – never feels properly explained.
There are occasional moments of real humour. Roger The Janitor cut a ludicrous figure. The binocular embarrassment was done well. But overall the novel seemed to be caught between two stools – neither comic enough nor real enough to make it worth reading. It’s a short book and it sustains the reader with its mercurial title and a feeling that it must all come together at the end. But it doesn’t.