The London Pigeon Wars - Patrick Neate

Finally! I've managed to clear enough of my book backlog to read a Christmas present novel. I received this from Caroline's sister who, I believe, is not a terribly great fan of London. It is a very Londony book, and not really the London I'd want to live in (the bit of London I inhabit is almost town-like in its backwateriness. I like this). It's a bit of an odd book, which I think probably fits into the category of 'magical realism'. It's certainly quite different to most of what I read, expanding my horizons, for which I am rather grateful.

The half dozen or so main characters are all pretty unlikable, but sympathetically so. Perhaps the author's overdone it on the 'realistically flawed characters' front. They've lost their student idealism and are all stuck in their own dead ends. Enter Murray, a mysterious friend from their student days, who proceeds to turn things around in peculiar ways. Oh, and there's commentary from a sentient pigeon who speaks like a Clockwork Orange droog. I believe this has something to do with reflections on the nature of conciousness, purpose and transition. Overall, the book crams quite a bit in, with interlocking threads that tie together loosely at the end. It's either being quite subtle and clever, or failing to explain itself properly. Quite possibly both.

Posted 2006-09-08.