23 February, 2015

The Last Hiccup by Christopher Meades [Monica, Orewa Library]

When you get to the point in your reading when you know what to expect from a book just by the author, genre or blurb, then take a leap of faith and try The last hiccup.

The first thing that struck me about this little book is that it has no genre label, which is getting rarer as authors and publishers ultimately have a goal audience in mind to sell their books to. The image on the front cover also intrigued me and I deliberately avoided reading the blurb on the back cover.

I therefore had no expectations when I started reading, and the story was all the more adventurous for that. What a strange little story: dark and sometimes bawdy humour; a tragedy set in Russia from 1929 to 1941, with an unsettling ending that left me feeling that I needed a good laugh and a long walk to come to terms with it.

It tells the story of young Vladimir, who, on his eighth birthday, suddenly develops a case of hiccups. His case becomes the focus of two doctors who try to help him, and we are drawn into the drama of their lives as much as Vladimir’s. Christopher Meade’s characterisations are spot on: his characters were real and believable, and a mix of the strange medical case presented before them and the insecurities and foibles of the leading characters twist together to hurtle at increasing speed towards the finale.

Author: Christopher Meades
Published: 2012
Publisher: ECW Press
ISBN: 9781550229738

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