Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Little Hands Clapping by Dan Rhodes

In Little Hands Clapping, we delve into the weird and darkly wonderful world of Dan Rhodes, where Museums are dedicated to suicide and their curators eat little more than crackers, cake and spiders; Doctors are - at least in one instance – cannibals; and love can conquer, or destroy, all.

The story follows various seemingly unconnected stories, some of which span the entire novel, eventually gravitating towards the previously mentioned Museum of Suicide; and some that pop up almost randomly throughout the novel, like windows into the bizarre world of Rhodes.

As with Gold, a previous Dan Rhodes novel I reviewed, Little Hands Clapping is fairly lacking in the plot department. The blurb tells us that the characters of the book will be caught up in a crime that will shock the world... OK, so it is a pretty bad crime, but one that becomes apparent very early on in the novel and there is never a real shock involved. The most important aspect of the book is the highly descriptive and downright beautiful prose. Without Rhodes' exemplary way with words, Little Hands Clapping would be a dull and wholly pointless little book, but instead it is transformed into a sweet, funny and mildly macabre novel, which was a real treat to read.

Dan Rhodes' style of writing has often been called 'lad lit', but I don't see it that way. I think its whimsical, plodding nature would make it more a choice for the art/drama student, rather than your typical Bravo Two-Zero 'lad'. Either way, Little Hands Clapping is a bizarre, sometimes melancholy, but thoroughly enjoyable, if unconventional, novel.


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