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The Pilo Family Circus Paperback – March 24, 2009
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Next, he comes home to a house completely and utterly trashed, nothing left unbroken and feces smeared everywhere. There's a note for Jamie, "Pass your audition, feller, you're joining the circus". Dreading the countdown, Jamie finally does something outrageous and finds himself awakening in the Pilo Family Circus. He's given a clown outfit, a bag of the powder, and facepaint. Now partners with leader Gonko, wordless but shrieking Goshy and his brother Doopy, Rufshod, and Winston. After putting on his facepaint, Jamie becomes JJ the clown, outrageous, mean, and out of control. There's something in the facepaint that changes him. You'll meet the members of the freak show ran by Fishboy, and created by MM (Master Manipulator) who turns normal humans into hideous freaks like Tallow Man and Nugget. The clowns pretty much have free run of the circus, only the acrobats dare to challenge them.
Kurt Pilo, a giant of a man, religious and strange, runs the circus with his dwarfish brother George. There's something very strange about Kurt, you'll be put on edge just reading about him. Clowns are scary enough, but after Pilo's Family Circus you'll be terrified of them.Read more ›
"Beneath Jamie's attempt to live a rational life where all was clearly marked and set in order, there was a wellspring of eccentric behaviour waiting to be tapped, which Jamie seemed instinctively at pains to keep from spilling over. It looked to be a daily battle. And the more fight he put up, the more impressive the results when the guy either temporarily cracked, or permanently bent. No one bends further than someone made of completely straight lines" (p. 40).
We vaguely learn about the dark rationale behind the existence of the confined zone of the showgrounds, and by extension the human world at large:
"Each part of the show is designed to part the tricks [i.e., the audience] with the most precious thing they have: the human soul...We steal them by the dozen...Every human weakness is catered to by some part of the show. Everyone has a pressure point, and like moths to flame they are drawn to whatever attraction will best be able to milk them" (pgs. 214, 216).
My issue with this novel, however, is that despite all the squabbles, nasty rivalries, potty mouths, spectacular mayhem, and grotesquely funny situations, the story never gains enough momentum to lift off; while at times the subplot is needlessly drawn out and becomes tedious: the hide-and-seek involving the fortune teller's crystal ball, for example.Read more ›
Comparisons with "It" and other evil clowns are a little misplaced. The clowns are a rough and ready bunch to be sure: lead by the scheming, sadistic Gonko, the masochistic Rufshod, the creepy space-cadet Goshy and his puppy-dog psychopath brother Doopy as well as the mysterious Winston, the clowns draw the protagonist Jamie into the Pilo Family Circus when he accidentally comes to their attention. But the clown troupe is not the real evil of the Circus, no sir. That would be Kurt Pilo, the bestial proprietor who snacks on teeth and his Napoleonic brother George. Even these two serve shadowy masters who reside... elsewhere.
In between the clowns' struggles to win Kurt's favour and sabotage other acts of the Circus (their running battle with the camp-but-deadly acrobats is hilarious) we witness Jamie's struggle with his alter-ego J.J., who emerges when Jamie is forced to don his magical face paint. This battle of wills can only have one winner - and one dead loser.
The action is fast paced, the dialogue is witty, salty and colours the characters very nicely. Subsequent readings of this book have revealed deeper allegorical elements to this story, for example the Jamie/J.J. struggle could be a metaphor for someone's struggle with addiction or schizophrenia. The circus itself may be a comment on our need for and addiction to distraction and entertainment, even as our souls are sucked our of our bodies.
In all this was a cracking read and I would recommend not reading it on the train or bus, as there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. For fans of The Young Ones and H.P. Lovecraft alike, enjoy this fine debut.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The novel read like a queasy nightmare with creepy characters that loomed on this side morbidity. Enjoyable.Published 28 days ago by Lee Rorman
Pretty good. Kept me reading. Wondering was there another book regarding clowns.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Overall good read and certainly makes you think twice about going to the circus. Looking forward to the next one.Published 1 month ago by Stephen
Loved the book if you are scared of clowns, you might not want to read this. Mr Will Elliot is a fantastic writer and I hardly put the book down. Waiting for another one like thisPublished 2 months ago by Dania
Just having clowns in the book should give you the creeps. It is pretty funny, in a demented way. Definitely worth reading.Published 2 months ago by Sailorcrew
It's horror, but done in a sarcastic, humorous, light-hearted way. The characters are pretty-well developed so it makes their sarcasm so much better. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gordon Bordon