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PIGTOPIA Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 5, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Irish playwright Fitzgerald's prose reads like the saw-sound of a Gaelic folksong, with most of the macabre moral fable told in the particular patois of Jack Plum, a boy with a monstrous appearance but greater depths of humanity and understanding than most "normal" people. Labeled a freak or an imbecile, Jack lives alone with his abusive mother. His only refuge is the cellar shelter conceived of by his long-absent father as a hidden place to raise pigs. "Without the pigs I would be forsaken of love and perhaps I could turn into anger shapes like Mam does and want to put out blame. I know these types of stirrings—the want to make hurt." Only when he befriends the awkward, young Holly Lock does human friendship enrich his life. But the two share dark secrets, and the deeper and more genuine their friendship becomes, the greater the threat to Jack's "Palace for pigs." This beautifully crafted story retells the classic lesson of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, with much of the innocence and the horror intact. While Fitzgerald brings the book to a somewhat hurried end that plays with the conventions of classical Greek tragedy, this debut novel is still satisfying and heartbreaking. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From The New Yorker
The center of this novel is Jack Plum, a thirty-something suffering from macrocephaly, which leaves him isolated and feeling like a monster. His alcoholic mother, with whom he lives, blames him for her troubles and for his father's departure. To escape from the insults and abuse heaped on him by his mother and the townspeople-he's particularly persecuted by a group of young boys-Jack spends most of his time in a "pig palace" in his basement, where he keeps a herd of the animals that his father taught him to love. The narration alternates between Jack and his friend Holly, a girl struggling with puberty and her mother's new boyfriend. Holly has a conventional voice that tends to point up the more trite and facile elements of the plot, but Jack's wisely na•ve insights give the story a fairy-tale charm.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book. It took a couple of chapters for me to sink into his jargon and understand him, but once I did, it was amazing. Something like one of those emails designed to show you how your brain can still read with all the letters in words jumbled. I can't really call it literary fiction, because, well, I liked it and I don't generally care for literary pompousness. It's just general fiction with very deep point of view. Nicely done. A nice change from "the usual" for me.
This book is a Nice Bang for Your Entertainment Buck. Well worth your time and money, but not one you'll have to keep around. Pass it on to someone who'll enjoy it and keep the author on your radar.
There was plenty of food for thought as well making one think of man's inhumanity and discrimination towards other men. For example this quote from Jack Plum (the pig boy). "To fetch resting I think in on piglegends for calming. It is said of Quinling, what made first humanpig bonding, long time back--maybe he had not, then pigs would not get butchered. The reckoning of this was, coming full aware of pig cleverness, humankind did have reason to slaughter. This is as some tribe persons did have reason to slaughter. This is as some tribe persons did to eat of strong enemy people and take in their strengths. And it is also reasoned to keep pigs in a down place, cast away of no acknowledgement."
Later on in the book Holly Lock reaches puberty shortly before she is forced to give up the pig palace. One could see the story as a passage from childhood to adulthood.
The meaning of the ending left me wondering and dreaming. (I'm not really sure I got it.) But it was good nonetheless.
The prose is a pleasure to read. It was a good idea to bounce back and forth from the pig boy's narration to Holly Lock's. Reading the pig boy's language non-stop for 250 pages would have been tough.
The characters are far the most part realistic. The wicked mother in the wheelchair could be considered an easy stereotype, but there is nothing wrong with that. I've been accused of using easy stereotypes myself. Disabled people are often used as villians because their physical disability supposedly makes them twisted in some way. It's time to retire that device, but it doesn't really hurt this beautiful book at all.
author of Talk Radio, the book feared by radio talk show hosts