Monday, 16 May 2011

Reviews Of Books I Have Read

Mandible Road by Lorbis Gorton
Mandibles! I'll say it again. Mandibles. When I say this word what comes to mind? Insects, spiders, salamanders, grasshoppers, Jehovah's Witnesses or certain kinds of French cheeses, maybe. Well, think again. Mandible Road puts a whole new perspective on the definition of mandibles and the creatures that wear them. Not to mention their relationships with the non-mandible creatures they cross paths with. And how the tension created between the species shakes up the foundations of a close-knit community whose only desire is to see their football team, The Van Goiter Buzzards, win a game. It's a love story, a war story, a story of exhilarating science and the peaks and pitfalls of great discoveries. Scientist, Brent Carruthers, leads an ideal life in the town of Magoonda, somewhere just outside of somewhere in Wisconsin. Working as a lead product development scientist at the local floor wax factory, Brent is well-paid and able to look after his family, but a longing in his heart to break away from the floor wax trade leaves him unsatisfied and striving to make the great scientific discovery that will cement his name in annals of science for eternity.
Building a home laboratory in the basement of his three-story Dutch Colonial home, Brent labours for long hours, ignoring his three children and wife, Gwyneth, causing Gwyneth to strike up an affair with the floor wax factory foreman, Rusty Gruntmire, and his children to befriend their neighbours' garden gnomes. Such is the steep price and lonely sacrifice one must pay in the pursuit of scientific breakthroughs.  After months of toil, Brent is finally ready to reveal his great discovery, although Gwyneth is unprepared for the shocking results. So are his children. Brent grafts a pair of mandibles on to his wife, Gwyneth, who is then forced to feed on snails for the rest of her life. How does this impact their relationship? What do the neighbours think? Will Brent receive further grant money from the Milton Plobsole Genius Foundation?  I'll tell you, I was on the edge of my seat. A seat not unlike those the esteemed scientists of Magoonda sat upon when they felt the foundations of their scientific world being shaken and maybe even collapsing (I won't give this part away but as a teaser, remember, when in a room facing a marvelous, groundbreaking but slightly terrifying discovery, refrain from using aluminum lawn chairs-the plastic ones, well, they're a little better but still, consider this a warning). In an act of vengeance against Rusty Gruntmire, who had been licking his lips salaciously over the fetching body of Gwyneth bi-weekly, and sometimes they licked each others lips and even, sometimes, they licked freshly waxed floors during the heights of their depraved ecstasies, Brent Carruthers commands Gwyneth to crunch Rusty Gruntmire between her mighty and very deadly mandibles. Also, she begins to resemble a giant mosquito at this point, although it's unclear why, and is the only fault I found with this book because if your wife turns into a giant mosquito, there should be a reason. 
Brent and Gwyneth then begin to rebuild their life together and it seems like, at last, peace and happiness is again going to settle on this three-storey Dutch Colonial home and the family that dwells inside. In a touching and telling scene, told with poignancy and heart-rending sobriety, the children return from the forest with a plastic bucket and say, in their chirpy, cheerful voices, "Look, Mama, we've brought you more snails to eat." She then sucks their blood a little, not too much because they're her children after all and she doesn't want to drain them dry. There is a moment, in Chapter Six, where during their lovemaking, Gwyneth nips Brent with her mandibles and for once, Brent is able to see the true nature of what he has created.  Mandibles are not a fashion statement, he soon realizes. They are something you are born with and wear with pride. And if you fiddle with nature, you're fiddling on a second rate violin while Rome is burning or in this case, the small town of Hooblerville, which is where Brent flees to after the good citizens of Magoonda, angered over the incident with the floor wax factory foreman, chase him to and then light the town on fire so he has to leave there also. Let me say, just when you think the plot is winding down, it gets a second wind with even more, exciting events that involve mandibles and marriage and the moral compass and fiber of a world gone insane. A war starts somewhere, far away, and I don't want to give too much away but rest assured, mandibles come into the picture. Gwyneth goes crazy and eats more human beings. Not to mention Brent is then thrown into a world of international espionage and intrigue. And mandibles too. All I can say is rush out to your local bookstore or library and grab yourself a copy of this amazing novel. Lorbis Gorton may not be a household name, like Ajax or Mr. Clean, but his first book is a doozy and I anticipate great things for his next work, perhaps in a similar vein. In fact, in a recent interview, the author alluded to his next book tentatively titled, Veins, A Memoir. I, for one, can hardly wait.

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