These DeMented Lands

Alan Warner, Author
Alan Warner, Author Anchor Books $12.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-49146-4
Reviewed on: 02/16/1998
Release date: 02/01/1998
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1103-1
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4070-6384-3
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Readers who remember Warner's debut, Morvern Callar, may recognize the mysterious heroine in his second novel as she wanders about an isolated island populated by lunatics, losers and the lost. Fellow eccentrics include a hippy salvager known as the Argonaut; the existential Aircrash Investigator, who searches for the remains of a long-forgotten plane wreck; and John Brotherhood, sinister proprietor of the Drome, a seamy resort hotel for honeymooning couples. The landscape that these characters inhabit is also eccentric but familiar, invoking Homer, Shakespeare and Warner's fellow Scots R.L. Stevenson and James Kelman. After Warner's jaded but willful heroine clashes with Brotherhood, she winds up indentured as a housemaid to pay her hotel bill. Her escape from the Drome, like her hidden motive for going there originally, is less absorbing than the heavy brogue, deadpan dialogue and surreal imagery of Warner's prose. Even if plot matters less to Warner than trippy atmospherics, he earns praise for finding poetry in a parade of whelk-pickers, a sinking ferry, a psychedelic beach-rave and even a propeller blade. (Mar.) FYI: Morvern Callar, winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize, has been filmed by the BBC.
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