The Dazzle, by Robert Hudson
Sunday 03 February 2013
Big-game fishing has been the subject of novels before, not least those by Herman Melville and Ernest Hemingway, but this is surely the first to be located in 1930s Scarborough, where the sport of tuna-fishing was pioneered and became a fashionable craze.
Robert Hudson has mixed real characters with fictional ones to produce a fast-paced, enjoyable romp that is hard to categorise: his tale, based on a contest between the American writer of Westerns Zane Grey and the equally real English gent Lorenzo Mitchell-Henry, is too witty for farce, not biting enough for satire and humorous rather than laugh-out-loud funny.
The convoluted plot, involving suave aristocrats, mysterious Chinese drug lords, secret agents and relentless bed-hopping of an often distinctly kinky nature, is far too implausible to be taken seriously as anything but a homage to the lurid thrillers of the interwar era. Yet it allows Hudson to have fun with the excesses of the Fast Set, and to play with different voices in letters written by protagonists such as Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway's third wife and later an acclaimed war correspondent.
The book ends with "A Note on the Type": "Goudy Old Style, and not because the font has a jazzy italic 'z' and diamond-shaped full-stops… Or even because of the sharply-canted hyphen…" There is more of this, from which one might conclude that Hudson is a bit up himself. But perhaps it's all part of the undeniable amusement.
Published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, £16.99
TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies
Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
The 9 rules every Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon had to follow are wonderfully pedantic
Toy Story 4: Pixar promises a romcom storyline 'separate' from the much-loved trilogy
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
The world's most beautiful libraries: Introducing Franck Bohbot's House of Books project
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests