Saturday, June 30, 2012

Various Pets Alive and Dead

Various Pets Alive and Dead
Marina Lewycka
ISBN: 9781905490912

This book by the author of "Two Caravans" tells two parallel stories
about a 1970's hippy commune and the adventures of two of its children
in the 21st century. A lot of the humour comes from ridiculing some of
the more ultra-left views current in the 1970s and then contrasting
the morality of the parents with the immoral world in which Serge -
one of the children - has become embroiled.

I don't intend to ruin the plot but the banking world is summarised
for Serge thus:

"Imagine gambling in a casino. Everything you win, you keep. And every
time you lose, a kind-hearted donkey called Joe Public comes along
with a sack of gold and pays off your debts .... He just has to keep
the government onside by keeping them running scared."

Drawn into this world because of the easy money, Serge develops a
whole new meaning for the term "fictitious capital." The parts of the
financial plot which seem most bizarre, like making money out of a
downturn, are the parts which are most accurate.

In the hippy commune, the attempts to explain the role of marriage -
or the "pastry arky of the domestos fear" - to young children are a
salutary warning about fitting your language to your audience.

Marina Lewycka does not spare anybody, left or right, from her comic
ridicule. This is a thoroughly good read.

Derek McMillan
Mid Sussex Socialist Party

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