As much as I grew up on the Girls’ Own genre, I also grew up on Boy’s Own books. H Rider Haggard … Jules Verne … Arthur Conan Doyle. You know the sort of thing – lots of Derring Do and Buckling Of Swashes and Stiff Upper Lips. It was because of this that I was happy to review a copy of The Bother In Burmeon by SP Moss when approached by the author.
It’s a fun near-pastiche of the novels I know so well. Billy is pulled back in time to 1962 and ends up on a mission with his “dead” Grandfather – Grandpop. Moss handles her time-slip well, introducing a lot of detail and a lot of colour to the 1962 world. I enjoyed the awkward moments where “modern” technology appears and Billy has to cover it – and he doesn’t do particularly well. The last little coda in the book is very nicely handled and bookmarks the entire novel.
I’m reminded though of an anecdote told by William Goldman in one of his epochal books on screenwriting. He recounts the tale of a film involving a pivotal chess match, and it stormed a test screening of chess aficionados. They applauded everything – even the moves on the chessboard. His point was that if you show a person who likes chess a film all about chess they will like the film but they may only be 5% of your audience.
I thought of this anecdote throughout my reading of the Bother in Burmeon. I enjoyed it even while finding it problematic: there were a few grammatical errors, some shifting tenses and way too many commas, which, as you’ll start to see, when you comma every other clause the reading experience becomes a little, or more than a little, choppy, and you become a little, well, lost from the original point that the sentence, which started such a long time ago, was trying to make and sometimes you have to go back six paces to go forward to and well …. you get the picture.
This is probably a very idiosyncratic reaction, but I hated the name of the supermarket.
I liked The Bother In Burmeon in spite of all of this. It’s a fun, diverting tribute to a genre of stories which brought up a generation.
I would like to thank SP Moss for the review copy.