Seth Hahne's Reviews > A Spot of Bother

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
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Jan 23, 08

bookshelves: bookclub
Read in January, 2008

I'm not really sure what to say about this one. I really can't generate strong feelings one way or another on its behalf. It wasn't bad but it wasn't good - and conversely, it wasn't good but it wasn't bad. It had likable moments and parts that I laughed at. And some of Haddon's descriptions were priceless (e.g., the "chickeny scrotum" bit). But then there was the rest of it. I kept feeling that if it was either good or bad, I would have relished finishing it so that I could relish talking about it.

But it wasn't. And so I didn't. It was, I guess, the most mediocre book I've ever read. Everything works as a perfect counter-balance for everything else.

The characters are almost uniformly unlikeable - as well as being flatly conceived. But then the tone of the book is largely humourous and brisk. Every event in the novel feels contrived and every dialogue scripted. But the things that are said are sometimes funny and the situations make it possible for more funny things to be said. And so on.

In then end, if you ask me whether I liked the book, I'd simply have to respond with a shrug and one of those perplexed looks that doubles for I don't know.

NOTE: far more interesting than the actual book is the author's account of the bloody illustration that ended up on newer additions of the book. Unfortunately, mine was a not-so-endearing cover. I think I probably would have enjoyed the book more had I been properly primed for it by the cover.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Charity Those illustrations were hilarious. Some actually made me think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (the knight who kept getting limbs cut off) and made me wonder if some of the inspiration came from that scene. :-) I agree that the new cover art is far more fetching. The font of the lettering also looks a little like Ralph Steadman.

I have seen this cover http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58... and this cover http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/82... around, but none can do justice to the 'bleeding man' version. Thanks for sharing!


Seth Hahne Yeah, neither of those give you the feeling that you'll be reading something smart or funny.

The cover I got stuck with (the wedding cake with character silhouettes) probably covered the theme of the book better than the bleeding man, but the bleeding man definitely hits the tone better.

Oh yeah, and good call on the Steadman resemblance. Despite the whole don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover axiom, I think book covers can definitely inform our reading of the text.


Charity People who say they don't ever judge covers are liars. :-)

I, too, got stuck with the 'cake' cover...but, it was an advanced reader copy (and a gift) so there wasn't much to be done.


Seth Hahne That's why I read the dark-cover-with-white-raven version of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel instead of the less common white-cover-with-dark-raven version. I knew it would affect my reading and I was just in the mood for a story that was dark, mysterious, and brooding rather than something light and buoyant. In retrospect, I wonder if I made the right decision and how such a change would have affecting my view of the book.


Daria Yup, that about sums it up....


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