Sunday, 25 December 2011

"God bless us, every one!"

I'm in a bit of a "Bah, humbug" mood at the moment, having caught a rotten cold a few days ago. It's not quite flu, but it's causing a high enough fever to be distinctly hallucinogenic. I wrote the previous post in the middle of the night because I had to get up; every time I shut my eyes I got a continuation of a strange half-dream that I had to use some kind of Enigma or Turing Bombe machine to solve Kai's mirror puzzle from The Snow Queen (we watched the 2002 TV movie earlier in the week).

So, no deeply meaningful meditations on Christmas: just a repeat recommendation of Louis Bayard's 2004 novel Mr Timothy, a fine Dickens pastiche that brings Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol into early manhood, now cured except for an occasionally painful leg and slight limp. Scrooge's new-found benevolence hasn't been entirely a positive influence in Tim's life; the philanthropy has been omnipresent to the point where Tim is at a loose end, resenting his lack of financial independence. The book finds him trying to escape this heritage, after the death of his father Bob Cratchit, by disappearing into the London underworld. He finds lodgings in a brothel, in exchange for teaching the mistress to read and write; and finds work with the cheerful Captain Gully who plies the Mayhew-esque trade of fishing corpses from the Thames to recover the contents of their pockets. The story takes an even darker turn with the discovery of the corpses of two 10-year-old girls branded with a "G", and Tim finds himself on the dangerous trail of high-society conspiracy and serial murder.

It's definitely worth checking out: the crime mystery runs parallel to the more existential story of the problem of breaking away from the roles we're assigned in childhood, in Tim's case that of the wimpy little crippled boy who says "God bless us, every one!" There's an online January Magazine review by David Abrams - Tiny Tim Sings a New Christmas Carol - and Google Books has a preview of the novel: Mr Timothy.

And best wishes of the season to all readers of JSBlog!
except the comment spammers who think I won't spot the Japanese spamlinks at the end of any number of "ooh, how interesting" comments

- Ray

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