- File Size: 1386 KB
- Print Length: 246 pages
- Publication Date: December 22, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00BEYEFAW
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,358,298 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Slipkin Papers Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
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I had laughed out loud so many times by the 2% mark (kindle version, obviously) that I hadn't noticed the absence of a strong plot line, but right about then, the plot skyrocketted (quite literally). The author's style delights me with its tangential tidbits laden with humor, reminding me of the great Bill Bryson. You think you know where he's going with a sentence, and then you find out you were absolutely right--except when he starts singing about tomatoes. (That doesn't really happen, but you get the idea.) Even the rather lusty scenes with Queen Victoria (yes, you read that right) were just so deliciously ridiculous that they couldn't offend my normally rather...well...Victorian sensibilities.
However, a little over half way through, the language dropped a grade or three with the insertion of quite a few F-bombs. That disappointed me, given (a) those Victorian sensibilities, and (b) the fact that this author is absolutely capable of coming up with something much cleverer to say.
Throughout the entire novel, I loved that I was as uncertain as Slipkin as to whether he had died, gone mad, or just had a bizarre dream. He kept trying to take tabs on reality and giving up, and so did I. As with the counsel given by Queen Victoria, I tried to "go with the flow" and hope I'd figure it out. Sadly.... I never really did figure it all out. I was as bewildered as Slipkin.
The book does have a few technical difficulties. I wished the kindle version had contained a Table of Contents for navigation purposes. Also, I wanted to buy the author an enormous shaker full of commas and periods to sprinkle liberally into the manuscript. The lack of them became progressively more noticeable as I read on, and it's always a bummer to have punctuation problems pull you away from a perfectly good story. Also, I was thrown off initially by the formatting that used double space breaks after each paragraph instead of the standard indentation. I kept thinking that visual cue marked a new scene, the passage of time, or a change in point of view. Sometimes it did, but mostly not, which left me guessing all the more. I say all this, but things mechanical are not as important as things literary. Those can all be fixed in one quick edit, and that would upgrade the rating a notch.
The story itself is entertaining. Morgan obviously did some historical research, and then he twisted things around to re-write history (or a second-go version of it) with charming flair. Very funny. Very, very unique. I just wished the language had been cleaner and the final loose-end-tying-of-knots a little clearer.
"Eric Slipkin: music and laughter – good old music and laughter and all they mean for the world."
What happens next is even more bizarre, as author Paul Morgan takes the reader on a wonderfully wry and often laugh-out-loud journey into a world he somehow makes completely believable, despite it being wholly unbelievable. Or is it?
In many ways - particularly with irony and understatement employed as precision storytelling tools - Morgan presents an archetypal British story imbued with the spirit of Monty Python, The Goons and Tom Sharpe. The reader is introduced to key figures from European political history, along with madcap appearances by American entertainment giants.
The story - somehow, despite its slapstick passage through progressively more fantastical events - clearly follows some underlying thread of meaning and significance. Seemingly against the odds, an intelligible story unfolds, one that sucks you in, keeps you reading, and finally converts you to a believer in the unbelievable.
In very many senses this is a tale of mystery, one that morphs through time, place and sensibility. It's an irreverent look at life, death, stiff upper lips, Napoleon's own waterworks problems, the foibles of dictators and the release of pent-up sexual frustration in a long dead British Empress. It's also the story of a nobody's epiphany, a touching blooming of a wallflower, the beginning of curiosity in the heart of a previously unassuming collector of uninvited wild animal houseguests to the homes of long suffering clergy.
Put simply: it's a joy, a pleasure and a fillip to the heart to read. This is a book written with consummate ease, or so the confident and expert use of the English language would have you believe. Morgan's fluid prose belies his sharp observation, his wit and self-deprecation.
In many ways, I suspect such a fanciful story could only ever be pulled off by someone with Morgan's evident ease and confidence, and clearly dry outlook on life. As with many humorous people, such as Stan Laurel: it takes intelligence and seriousness to be so stupidly funny. And that seems to sum up Paul Morgan's excellent romping tale quite well; a clever and thoroughly accomplished piece of writing that therefore lays bare nothing but the pure joy of its reading.