Wednesday, 21 May 2014

War with the newts by Karel Capek

"And then all that was to be heard was a dark and boundless rushing sound as of rising waters"

I have a large pile of books to be read and seem to be choosing them in a strange fashion. It is weird that while reading about newts, I was simultaneously making my way through Twelve Years a Slave, Frog music  and  The Origins of the Species.  I say that's weird as evolution, amphibians and slavery all have their part to play in this unusual Czech novel.

I was guided to it by its place in the 1001 books to read list and I have to say it took a while to get into. While not a particularly lengthy tome, the writing is quite dense and the satire takes it time until you find yourself at moments simply laughing out loud at the absurdity of some of the action, and, almost in the same breath, stepping back and pondering what man's treatment of the ugly newts says about man. The initial superficial response to the newts is to brand them as something of an unattractive novelty, a 'devil ' , or a handy collector of pearls. The fake quotes are a hoot
                    "They have no sex appeal. So they can't have a soul - Mae West".

The newts increased interaction with mankind and ability to read and speak leads to some amusing action, before venturing more firmly into political satire and finally all out war - as the title suggests.

Not as quick a read as one might expect by its size, yet certainly an interesting and entertaining one.

5 out of 5 slippery salamanders can be sticklers.

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