As I mentioned before, I haven't quite completed an audio book in a while. This week, after the closing credits on Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother, I must admit I was surprised by how I felt. Sitting in the car the next day, as I started driving to work, it felt like somehow I was wasting my time. What am I doing listening to this stuff, wasting precious 'me' time, when I could be reading a book? Strange, this reading while driving thing. I am sure it is a phase, and it will pass. But for now, I am enjoying it.
So now, A Spot of Bother. It doesn't need repeating that Mark Haddon is a funny guy. He has that wry sort of humor that makes you chuckle and think at the same time. He continues to be in some sort of form here, though fair warning - do not expect another Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
A Spot of Bother is the story of four semi crazy members of a semi dysfunctional family. There is George, the taciturn father entering retirement ... and depression. There is the caring wife, and forbearing mother, who also happens to be carrying on steamily with an ex co-worker of the husband. There is the rebellious daughter who might be marrying someone just to spite her family. And the gay son trying to keep his distance from relatives, only to find that he is also distant from all relationships. Events are set in motion by a declaration of intent to wed ... and the four lives start unravelling.
Haddon is witty, though he makes sure that his characters aren't. That wouldn't quite do for this family. As events (and lives) unravel, and things start taking a turn for the decidedly bizarre, Haddon's humor keeps the book grounded, and keeps things from entering cuckoo land. This is enough to sustain an engaging listening experience. Not too heavy to tax my half-occupied driver's mind. Funny enough to keep time flying. There was one Ick moment when I had to get off the road to shudder ... but even that was fun in a way.
I am not certain I would have found the book itself half as amusing. The characters are too creatively crazy. The ending is too pat. It is all too much like ... like something that happens in novels.
The CDs though ... now that is another thing altogether.