The Cuckoo Parchment and the Dyke by Michael Dhillon

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The Cuckoo Parchment and the Dyke by Michael Dhillon
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Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A superbly crafted story from the art world makes a compelling read. Recommended. Michael took some time away from his busy life to talk to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 258 Date: July 2009
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849235105

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Tristan Jarry is the world's most famous artist but he's rather moved on from selling his work for millions and has just kidnapped Angelique Burr, the step-daughter of the President of the United States. She's not an innocent child but an abused and abusing woman, now a journalist and at times well able to hold her own with Jarry. He's got helpers though - and forward planning - and it's not long before Angelique finds herself involved in a trail of destruction and death as Jarry works towards his purpose. He intends to resurrect Dada, the iconic movement founded in 1916 in Zurich with the intention of protesting against the war. He'll tell Angelique so much – but not what he finally intends to do.

Just occasionally you pick up a book and you recognise certain events as fact. I was familiar with Dada and the Cabaret Voltaire. I knew the names of the founders and this story was attached so seamlessly that it read as a continuation of what happened almost a century ago. Times might have changed but the attitudes flowed on with barely a ripple. Gradually the back stories of the main characters are filled in and you know that this is the meeting of larger-than-life people. For many authors each of these stories would be a book on its own.

It's sharp. It's brutal. In places it's gloriously funny and sometimes it's just wonderful whimsy. Takes for instance Tristan Jarry's helpers – Norman Clature, Dick Mustard and Felatia Cox – they're wonderful names, but serious people, so you mustn't laugh. Sometimes I found myself going back and rereading a passage just because I enjoyed it so much. Unfortunately there were other times when I found myself going over a passage for a different reason. We rarely see our own mistakes and what this book lacks is independent proof reading as I lost count of the times when I went back over a sentence to see if I'd misunderstood only to realise that it was a mistake that should have been spotted before printing. But for this I'd have given the book the full five stars.

It's pacey. It's original. There was no point when I thought I spotted where the plot came from. It's got characters who come off the page and live. I even started casting the movie in my head. When you finish the book you'll wonder how some of the characters are getting on. It's superb stuff and I thoroughly enjoyed it for the most part – except when I got slightly cross with the author.

I would still like to thank him for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might enjoy The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus – it's a completely different type of story but has the same sort of original talent.

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Bookinterviews.jpg Michael Dhillon was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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