Monday, April 10, 2017

C. E. Matthews on Tally-Ho, Cornelius!

Tally-Ho, Cornelius!   Hang on to your hats for this one. The first thing you notice about this novel is the structure, which shifts between the rollicking adventures of Cappy Cahtah Kohneum and his band of chaos engineers and the rather more stately existence of the Reverend Dr Jerry Cornelius (the post modern divine to you and me). In the case of the first, the chapters are short, with an eccentric cast of characters faced with a blistering set of inventions, challenges and situations; all shot through with a sense of irreverent humour and fun. You genuinely never know what's coming next, and reality itself joins the cast. As for the second, we follow the New York life of a celebrated author and clergyman at a transitional point in his life. At the outset at least, this tale is more grounded and delivered in more familiar way but still underpinned by humour. However, this is merely softening us up, as the chaos from one part of the story begins to "leak" into the other and - without spoiling anything - the post modern divine's life becomes very strange indeed. The writing does an impressive job of holding all this together and there are some great individual lines as well. "Can something which does not exist be experienced?" "If survival depends on it, I should say,'yes'". However the structure and the story are also a framework for ideas, there's an incisive critique of Shakespeare, rumination on anthropology, discussion of the French Revolution and many other things all weaved into the main narrative and used to spur the story on. It is fantastically dense with references and allusions, for example there is a Lt Baudrillard who is at one point described as a "loveable crank". The novel delights in subverting and confounding, but somehow makes it a joy to read.
To read more about Tally-Ho, Cornelius!, please click HERE.   

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