Monday, June 13, 2011

Thoughts on The Wasp Factory

You do have to wonder how an author's mind works when you read something like The Wasp Factory.  It's a very twisted read indeed, not to mention violent.

Sixteen year old Frank Cauldhame is the narrator and he provides not only the horror but the humour too.  Frank's older half brother Eric has escaped from a mental asylum and he's on his way back to their isolated home in Scotland where Frank lives with his father.  We never meet Eric, but we do find out why his mind shattered, and we listen in on the bizarre phone calls he makes to Frank as he gets closer and closer to home.

Frank loves his older brother, but he is disturbed and horrified by the violent acts that he perpetrates on dogs yet Frank himself tortures animals and, during the course of the novel, he admits to murdering three children before he is nine years old.  Frank considers himself sane, and he has rational explanations for his murders, but he is aware that he needs to perform certain rituals - the sacrifice of mice, and the capture and killing of wasps in his 'factory' which he believes foretells the future.

In a way this character reminded me of Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr Ripley - Frank is a psychopath or a sadist but you actually quite like him.  I liked the way the novel unravels events from the past which have shaped Frank's present, and the revelation that even Frank is not what he seems. It's very well written, but it is very graphic and it would probably be wise not to read it if you are an animal lover.  I had to keep telling myself - it's only a story, it's only a story..........

It's been hard to find something interesting to read next, I'm trying Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro but it's not really grabbing me.  I've read some really good reviews so hoping it picks up soon, and I'm listening to Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  I like the look of the movie trailer, but I always like to read the book first.  The narrators aren't bad, I think the old man is done very well, but the young man's voice is a trifle boring.  I don't know much about the story at all, but the premise is about a young vet student who joins a circus after his parents die in an accident and he finds that his inheritence belongs to the bank.  

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