Sunday, August 12, 2012

Puckoon, by Spike Milligan

…..  I just…. I don’t know where to start with this one….

Okay, a few years ago, as a gift, my aunt gave me Puckoon, by Spike Milligan to read.  At the time, I read few a few chapters then threw in the towel.  I didn’t find it very readable for a variety of reasons.  Puckoon is the perfect example of needing to be in the right place and the right time in your life to enjoy a work.  After reading Room, I really needed a light-hearted comedy to read and remembered about the quirky Milligan book; I rooted around on my shelves for it, and pulled it out in hopes of having it make me smile.  Boy, did it work!

Puckoon tells the story of a small town in Ireland during the division between the Protestant and Catholics.  Puckoon (unfortunately) falls right on the line of division.  Consequently, the boarder runs right through the Catholic Church’s grave yard.

Milligan’s story is packed full of the eccentric characters that live in Puckoon.  We are introduced to the local priest, the shifter, the barkeep and the doctor, along with a variety of others in the town.  We also get to observe the negotiation ceremony that decided on where to run the boundary line; the customs officials who are stationed in the village; and the IRA’s efforts to undermine the Protestant forces.

Milligan’s characters are hilarious.  They are charming and engaging.  They are a laugh riot.  Milligan was able to capture the voice of everyone he created, in a multitude of ways – he’s a master a writing accents (and there are a few!), as well as creating unique entities to tell his tale.

One of the oddest components of this book is the way that Milligan breaks down the fourth wall.  The narrator/author’s voice interacts directly with one of the characters.  The main character has a problem with how the narrator describes his legs and his wife, and calls him on it; to make up for it, the narrator promises to get him out of the story alive at the end.  I have never read a book where the omniscient voice of the narrator interacts with one of the characters.  It’s an interesting device, and well played by Milligan.

Well, I’m not sure this review does justice to Puckoon.  It’s a hard book to wrap your head around for a variety of reasons, but all the same, it is a hilarious read with lots to recommend it.  However, if you’re not a naturally light-hearted person, this book may not appeal to you.  I do recommend that you check it out – you never know, you might be in the right place and time in your life to fully appreciate it!  

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