Cartoon Capers

That Old Suburban Angst,
Kevin Coyne

1. This collection of short pieces is really one long happily self-indulgent doodle, unravelling across the floor of  an outside bog. It could have been printed in the form of a toilet roll, in fact. This is not an insult or criticism, just a thought for future marketing, because Kevin Coyne talks a lot about arses, flatulent ones mostly, with the kind of joy one would expect of a toddler who`d swallowed a dictionary, and then ran around showing everyone the resultant gleaming turds.

2. This collection has themes; madness (the axe-wielding cartoon kind), and farting, as in
this extract from `Diarrhoea`;

Dad: Was that you or a passing motorbike?... Could it be that spicy fiddle faddle you  cooked for dinner?

and this, from `Topsy Turvy Time`;

The author pauses to fart four times. Switch to a small bar in Oslo. A jolly group of Norwegian youths are gathered round a log fire farting in harmony. A buxom, middle-aged woman in a long velvet evening dress is conducting them with great panache. The loudest of the young farters starts a conversation with her...
Well Mrs Gluwein, what do you think?

It smells Michael, but it`s good.

Nice to know it. Nice to know we are farting together in the correct way.

Someone much sadder and more obsessive than I might count the times farting is mentioned. It would be a lot, I bet. Also any slang word for penis. I`m wondering if the intention of this book is to topple the reign of the `coffee table` book, by making this the best `smallest room` book ever written. Then I could say it`s making a class statement, or some valid point about the state of current literature. But I think it`s just Mr Coyne having fun with himself, and us, if we care to join in.

3. Kevin Coyne has the ability to write the most delightfully unlikely phrases, which work because he decontextualises ... (at this point my mind wandered into the garden)

4. This collection of short pieces is very giddy. The sentences swoop and crush. The way Coyne builds a story seems entirely organic; an idea leads to an idea and there`s no restraint at all. None. Which I do find rather exhilarating, but also tiring, enfeebling even.
Here`s a bit of `Getting Better`;

He sat down to write...  "In the midst of the hallucination of time a steam roller had squashed his violet pumps." He was Oscar Wilde - or was he? He`d been mad once (or was it twice?) and the thoughts of entering that screaming dark world again shocked him. He decided he wasn`t Oscar Wilde; that he was really himself writing about Oscar Wilde. He felt better.

You can almost feel the thinking process happening, or running away with itself for sheer delight in it`s own daftness;

Cedric`s obsessed with Cardiff.
 "The city of the gods," he calls it, "a paradise for men, children, and all women over fifty." I`ve a powerful suspicion he`s never been near the place. My mother says he was born in Cairo, and I have to admit, he certainly looks like someone from the dark continent when he`s got his fez on. It`s very strange, very peculiar, very disturbing to a sauve and honest chap like myself. I wish he`d stop calling me "Boyo", in front of  the guests in the dining room. Listening to Ali`s tales of loose women, pregnant canaries, and a one legged nun from Sri Lanka is more than enough for one sensitive man to bear.
      (from `Rabbit Teeth`)

5. This collection of short pieces (and a few poems too) is for Viz fans who can spell. Or maybe it`s a genuine poke in the establishment`s eye. I didn`t find it very funny; I found some turns of phrase truly inspired, and the rest of it mind-numbingly crass. Now I must go, as my senile cat`s making a fuss about using his tray again and it`s given me an idea for a story.

               Sandra Tappenden 2005