This rhyming novel sounds quite twee: Fixated with virginity, It portrays Hampstead in its verse. Bill Greenwell's glad it wasn't worse
A twee twist of poetry
Losing It by Ranjit Bolt (John Murray, £9.99, 154pp)
Losing It (by Ranjit Bolt)
Will give its readers quite a jolt
If they expect the usual prose,
For this is how the whole thing goes:
It trips along, and swiftly lulls
The brain with octosyllables.
Its couplets work you overtime
(The plot is quite a pantomime)
Though once or twice an extra rhyme
Is thrown in as a special twist.
So: is it worth it to persist?
We're told it is a fairytale,
Though once we hit its curious trail,
That seems a rather too precise
Description. This is my advice:
Consider it a monologue
Which, like a very shaggy dog,
Possesses entertaining fleas,
And likes to titillate or tease
At best, it's animated, spry,
At worst, like watching Dulux dry.
In 12 long parts, it documents
The rather desperate extents
Its heroine (the scallywag!)
Will go to get her maiden shag
Two nerds, a lecher, and the shade
Of Casanova! Is she laid?
Dick Turpin's ghost, a roaring drunk,
Is also round to offer spunk
And does his spooky todger stand,
Deliver? Is the lady manned?
Reviewers must stay circumspect.
It's not politically correct,
As you will all by now have guessed,
And which, in fact, is self-confessed.
The whole's surreal as Doctor Who
If it were shown on Channel Two
As farcical in either sense,
A jeu d'esprit, with some pretence
At satire, though the way it whisks
Along with mock-coy aster****
Is frankly a far better bet
Than wading through a Vikram Seth,
Or Tony Burgess or name names!
That cloth-eared stuff which once Clive James
Got published 20 years ago.
Why build ye (say) The Golden Gate,
However clever, when a spate
Of novels wait beside your bed,
In prose which you'd have rather read?
So Ranjit Bolt is no Les Murray
Quite frankly, friends, you needn't worry.
If Posy's cartoon Madame B.
Was to your taste (it's not for me),
Then here you have a tale in verse
Which will not crucify your purse,
And probably will make you laugh.
The plot, too intricate by half,
Will maze you and confound you. Skip!
Or rest, and take another dip.
The verse moves like a turboprop,
Though "bookshop" doesn't rhyme with "stop"
And "Turpin" doesn't rhyme with "inn"
It doesn't matter if you're in
The mood. The author's won much praise
For verse translations (classic plays
By blokes like Aristophanes
Or Molière). This little wheeze
Is froth upon his beer, its whims
Mere alcopop beside his Pimm's.
But if it doesn't much offend,
And you wonder if she gets her end
Away despite the nasty hitch
Of dealing with a Hampstead witch,
Then read it with a glass of wine.
It's only £9.99.
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