The Late Hector Kipling | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST


The Late Hector Kipling
David Thewlis
Penguin
Hey! Poking about for a kicking novel with hyper-charged entertainment values? Current as tomorrow? Torrent-paced? With a carnage of truly whacked-out characters, which include a crazed dandy stalker and an American punk-poet love goddess who spells orgasm "S&M?"

Similar in tenor to Ricky Gervais's, iconoclastic British actor/writer David Thewlis serves up in his novel, The Late Hector Kipling, a closely observed, deliciously humoured rip set in London's hot art-star world, in which art, artists, rich titled collectors, musicians and actors co-mingle in a Warholian mix of commerce and celebrity.

The title's Hector Kipling, a wealthy, celebrated painter of huge heads, suffers a breakdown confronting an Edvard Munch painting. From that point, early in the novel, Kipling's manic depression engineers a startling, sometimes squirm-inducing, serio-comic descent through rings of hell of his own making. "I shall soon be hollow," he says. "Real pain can move in and put its feet up on the edges of my spine. Can't wait." During this magical misery tour-de-farce, great sport is made of absurd entries vying for the Turner art prize and actual Brit art-stars perform artless cameos. It's an exhilarating read.
Graham Pilsworth

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