|377||00000001||The Adventures of Peter Pickle|
Against all odds, this is a remarkable book. Why against all odds? Who ever has the guts to undertake writing of a parody of the great Dickens? A parody? What else could you expect with such a direct reference to the name of the great masterpiece? The Death of Pickwick. On the other hand, it could mean whatever.
And it really takes, not only pages, not tens of pages, but hundreds of pages, at least it did that in my case, to get convinced that this book really concerns the Pickwick of Dickens.
At first I was very disappointed with a futile formal feature: no division of a brickstone of a book into chapters, no headings. Such an unfriendly act towards reader! I have firmly decided to stop reading the famous South-American masters, not following the elementary use of punctuation. For me, headings in books are friendly handshakings of the writer. Reading on, I gradually lost my anger, understanding the fragmentary structure of the story. Hundreds of headings would be needed, many identical. This is not the appropriate line of critics in this case.
What, then, is? I do not know. In my case, the next irritating thing in reading this book was, what I already mentioned: uncertainty of whether this really concerned the great Pickwick of Dickens. Only after having read exactly 381 pages of the book did I become convinced. Having read almost 700 pages I have made a remark: 'Jarvis seems to be really deep in Dickens, story, style and details...' That also is my final unconditional verdict. No parody, that was clear from the beginning. But a history, an inquiry, a story of the birth, life and finally, as the title promises, the death of Pickwick. All described with great dedication and proliferation.
But before I came that far I had pains of understanding and following. According to my statistics of English language Kindle ebooks I look up an average of two words per hundred pages in dictionary, in this book I looked up 141 words, that is 18 words per 100 pages. It means that Jarvis uses an exceptionally rich vocabulary, to the benefit of language lover like myself.
Still another extra pain was, perhaps my own stumbling to a name and the person behind it: Mr Imbelicate. He comes up not far from beginning and pops up several times, finally even dies. But throughout the whole book, it is unclear to me, what is the time coordinate of this man: Is he a contemporary of Pickwick, or the author of the original story, or of the author of this book. Mr Imbelicate introduces Don Quixote as a story comparable or even model? for unending horsedbag travelling of the four Pickwick Gentlemen, Mr Pickwick and his companions Snodgrass, Tupman and Winkle, (and 'that intoxicated beast Sam Weller', as the real linguistic virtuoso, the servant of Mr Pickwick is called). Then I was completely shocked by the mention of Mr Imbelicate in a sentence: 'HAVE YOU SEEN the second movie in the Alien franchise?’ said Mr Inbelicate as he returned.' Mr Imbelicate, a timeless connoisseur of Pickwick and likewise as a movie watcher, that is, a citizen of the twentieth century. I am and remmain confused.
At an early stage I decided: four stars, mainly because of the author constantly pulling the reader's leg in various ways, but towards the end of the book my attitude softened because of the heavy points presented above. In the end, five stars would be more appropriate, no doubt, but four will do, as my vengeance for the legwork of the great author.