C.'s Reviews > Hideous Kinky

Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
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Sep 30, 08

Recommended to C. by: 1001
Recommended for: People interested in literary technique
Read in April, 2008, read count: 1

An interesting book for its narrative point of view. It is the story of two children going to Morocco with their thoroughly Bohemian mother and is told from the perspective of the youngest child (aged three or four). It was fascinating because there was very little in the way of tone - defined by the IB English A1 Bible as 'the attitude of the author or narrator to their subject'. What I mean is that there was very little judgement - everything was described, but the only conclusions were directly observable ones, like that she didn't like something because it was dirty, not because it was inherently bad. And it's incredibly accurate because little kids don't judge, they just observe. They have so little experience that they think everything that happens to them is normal, regardless of how abnormal it actually is. In this case, I kept waiting for something to be judged. For example, it being set in a predominantly Muslim country, and being interspersed with descriptions of women wearing veils and things like that, I kept expecting that someone would say something disapproving, because I kept forgetting it was written from a child's point of view.

But that never arrived. After a while I thought I detected a hint of dislike for the unstable, nomadic, hand-to-mouth existence the characters were living in, but at first I thought it was just the biases of my relatively conservative upbringing rearing their ugly heads. But later events proved that it was not all of my imagination.

I didn't like it that much, really. I only read it because I'd heard it was good. But definitely an interesting exercise in narrative point of view. It's a quick read - if you're interested in literary technique at all, it would be worth reading it just for that.
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[Name Redacted] As the product of an unstable, nomadic, hand-to-mouth childhood, i can tell you that there is a lot to dislike - and resent later on!


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