I must confess to struggling with this book somewhat. With an ensemble cast of characters, and different strands of a connected storyline, I admit that I spent much of the read lost and trying to play catch-up. I saw it through, of course, because I was keen to see where this otherwise intriguing, dark, absurd and occasionally disturbing tale was leading. It is, in fact, a very clever, if simple overall story, in which two misogynistic zealots set out to genetically create a subservient global female population, in a future world in which testosterone has been legally suppressed. The strands converge when their human guinea pig sides up with a bitter ex-wife and an illegal immigrant employee; America’s inept ICE department inevitably ends up doing their dirty work for them – undoubtedly a sideswipe at the inanity of the country’s immigration enforcers. As the sum of its parts, The Perfection of Fish is not particularly complicated, rather more convoluted – it is the parts themselves which become very difficult to follow. I think this is due, in no small part, to the relentless wry wit and distracting amount of dialogue, which is offbeat and distracting. The whole talking fish aspect takes the book into the realms for absurdity, hugely influencing the genre, to outright bizarre comedy. I found this a bit of a shame and, to be quite honest, with some irony, I think the whole thing would probably have been vastly improved if the whole fish (and the overall zaniness) had been left out of the tale altogether, trimming and simplifying the story; to tell the truth, I was crying out for a smoother and more fluid narrative. The book is long, and feels it at times; it could have comfortably removed at least one element for a shorter word count.
Yet, in spite of my own struggle with it, I can’t deny the quality in this book and its author. Morrison is an exceptional writer, undoubtedly highly educated and superbly eloquent. He is also tremendous at creating a vivid set-piece, and you do feel that you are there, as the reader, living the scene. His characters, too, as silly as they get, are well-considered, well-layered and superbly crafted. All in all, he rates very highly for me, as an author – I feel that the book would have done the same, if perhaps the story was delivered with a more reader-friendly voice and great deal less digression. It is a wryly comic, high-brow book for an intelligent, discerning reader, but not a passive read in any way, and it took me a noticeable amount of effort to keep with it. An acquired taste, I would suggest, but a good example of one, if you like your books offbeat, absurd and cleverly woven.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: -s-morrison offbeat bizarre comedy sci-fi futuristic