Saturday, 18 February 2012

The New Death and Others - James Hutchings

ISBN: n/a - available here

I've heard it said that in Victorian times people were obsessed with death whereas sex was a taboo, and that today this is the other way round. However, Hutchings smashes this theory out of the water with this collection of short stories and poetry. Not only does he talk about death in this book, but death is the entire premise, which he does mingle with sex, fame and much wit.

This collection made me laugh out loud several times with its clever twists and incongruities; always poking fun at death. However, at times I found the humour forced, and some of the puns were embarrassing.

Hutchings has a distinct voice throughout this collection which almost acts as a theme in itself. The dryness of his tone is the glue that holds the work together. Anachronisms abound in a way that it sometimes funny, often clever, but in places I found just too bizarre. From time to time they made me groan, and even confused me. There are also inconsistencies in the tense in places, which made the pieces difficult to read.

Altogether, though, this is an intelligent book, one that is fascinatingly morbid and entirely up-to-date with contemporary culture. The poetry, too, is that odd mix of old formats and new ideas, which works well, and is rhythmically very satisfying. If you like Neil Gaiman, it's worth giving this book a read.

Rating: 6/10

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