I recieved this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Title: The Horse's Arse
Author: Laura Gascoigne
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Date Published: April 4, 2017
Patrick Phelan is an ageing artist who has never made it big but who somehow manages to live on air in a North London suburb.
When not running art classes for amateurs, Patrick wrestles in the shed at the bottom of his garden with his life's work: a series of visionary canvases of The Seven Seals.
When his wheeler-dealer son Marty turns up with a commission from a rich client for some copies of paintings by modern masters, Phelan reluctantly agrees; it means money for his ex-wife Moira. However the deal with Marty is, typically, not what it seems.
What follows is a complex chain of events involving fakery, fraud, kidnapping, murder, the Russian Mafia and a cast of dubious art world characters. A contemporary spin on Joyce Cary's classic satire The Horse's Mouth, The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne is a crime thriller-cum-comic-fable that poses the serious question: where does art go from here?
I am going to start this review by saying I did not love this book. It was interesting to read but, I didn’t love it. I was really confused most of the book. I was not familiar with the wording that Laura Gascoigne used in this book. I was unable to comprehend exactly what was going on, so I just had to give my best guess as to what was going on.
I wasn’t a fan of the plot either. I felt like the plot was all over the place and very confusing. That said, I did like the concept of the book. It’s not everyday that you read something about a struggling artist. Overall, this was an intriguing concept but not executed the best. I think that it is worth a read if you are interested in the topic.
Interview with Laura Gascoigne:
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Finding the time to sit down and do it. Doing the research is fun, dreaming up plots is fun, inventing characters is fun. Even the first draft can be a party, when you’re sailing along on a stream of consciousness. But when you read through what you’ve written the hard bit starts. When you start to look at your writing through the eye of a reader, you start to get critical and think about what works and what doesn’t. Can you really say that? Is that a cliché? Does that sound pretentious? Is that too much/too little information? Are people going to get bored? Good writing is a process of editing, of keeping the good stuff and throwing out the bad. But you also need to know when to stop the editing, decide that it’s good enough and let it go. It’ll never be perfect. If it was, it might be quite boring.
What’s the best part about writing?
Partly it’s being in control: being able to set the world to rights by making the things you want to happen happen. Partly it’s being out of control: letting the characters take charge of the story and seeing what transpires. Just like reading, it’s pure escapism: a way of transporting yourself out of the here and now.
What’s your favourite book?
That’s a tough one. I used to say The Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo, but I haven’t read it for a while and my tastes might have changed. One of my favourite books is certainly The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary, which was an inspiration for The Horse’s Arse.
What’s your favourite candy?
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate all the way – though I do have a soft spot for marshmallows.
When did you start writing?
I started writing doggerel verses at school inspired by Hilaire Belloc and Ogden Nash, but I didn’t start writing fiction until my 30s. I began my first novel (still unpublished) when I had my first child, Spike. I’d send him to a childminder for a couple of hours in the morning and go off into an imaginary world. It was a good way of keeping my sanity. Before I had children I’d never have found the time to write a novel, but having children teaches you organisation.
Buy The Horse's Arse:
by L.J. Smith
Goodreads 2018: 1/100