Monday, 11 January 2010
Finally, five years after the rest of the population, I have read Terry Darlington's Narrow Dog to Carcassonne. I'd kept meaning to get around to it, but it seemed too frivolous a book to buy, but last weekend, after plying me with lethal brandy cocktails, Craig (aka Dr Duct and some time Warrior crew member) insisted on lending me his copy. So over the last few cold dark evenings, I have found respite from the snow and ice sitting in front of the fire and reading about the baking Mediterranean sun.
Narrow Dog is a book that a lot of people clearly love, and quite a few hate. I quite liked it. I wouldn't like it if every book were written in Darlington's somewhat strained epigrammatic style, but mostly it works here. The biggest downside of the rather dry, throwaway approach is that it treats really dangerous and exciting events the same as mildly amusing or annoying ones. Very stiff upper lip and all that, but it makes for a lack of variety within the book - there's no change in tone - and sucks the excitement from episodes that clearly must have been terrifying. The style best suits the amusing parts of the book; the descriptions of people and their reactions to Jim, the titular whippet, and the (flawed) canine hero himself. I laughed out loud in only a couple of places, but on the whole it made a very pleasant and undemanding read for a cold winter's evening.