Monday, February 13, 2012
Jamrach's Menagerie - Carol Birch
A few weeks ago I finished reading this book, Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch, and it has stayed with me like salt on the lip after a day at the beach.
It is a wild tale of Jaffy Brown, a boy in Victorian London who finds himself as a child in the mouth of a tiger escaped from Jamrach's Menagerie - true place and true event, but spirals outwards as he takes to the sea to find a Dragon of the komodo variety no less. However, things go awry and (spoiler alert) Jaffy and his companions find themselves lost at sea in two small life boats and discover the true heart of darkness at sea.
The writing is terse, frightfully vivid, beautiful and un-relenting - the lost at sea chapters were hypnotic - until the reader too, was hallucinating rescue and imaginary banquets - which is quite a feat, as to the gripping desire to survive at the bequest of dying companions, which was black and horrific, yet never failed to stir empathy while making me feel sick.
The only curious thing that struck me as odd was the title, such a small part of the book, but then again, what do you call a book that deals with the wilds of man and cannibalism. I don't know.
A gripping and griping read. Worth reading. Though not on a cruise.