Crandolin by Anna Tambour. Book review

Crandolin-Front-Cover-196x300CRANDOLIN by Anna Tambour, Chomu Press, £12.50 Paperback/HB

Reviewed by I O’Reilly

I don’t think that you can really review an Anna Tambour book, you can merely sort of hang on for the ride and hope that your literary senses are still intact when you’re done. Not that everything Tambour writes is weird. Not at all. It is more sort of… unexpected. My first introduction that I wanted to write about CRANDOLIN tried to list its main features, its merits and flaws; but how does one sum up a book about a sentient-type of blancmange called the Crandolin, who itself exists across several nodes in the space-time continuum, and whose investigation causes the diffusion of our protagonist’s consciousness across reality…?

Yup, CRANDOLIN is essentially a cookery book. A cookery book of cosmic proportions.

Tambour takes us on a trip through near-reality and historical reality in small bite-sized chapters, each with its own tiny tale of the strange, wonderful and the unsettling. Any number of these mini-chapters would make excellent shorts in and of themselves, but Tambour manages to weave them together through the use of metaphor, similarity or contrast to weave a tale that hints at much larger concepts.

CRANDOLIN is fabulation at its most exciting. Not only are the stories interesting and intriguing, they also all swirl (and sometimes swell, swelter and swill) around the theme of consumption, of greed, of eating and ingestion. The act of  consumption is mirrored in one of the characters pursuit of the finest virgin’s hair for his moustache business (when one person’s body becomes another’s commodity), also in the sweet-sellers of an unknown Middle-Eastern reality, and the sentient bladder-pipe which seeks to control its musician. When does consumption stop? When does one thing cease to be itself and become another? Perhaps the cosmic beings known as the Muse and the Omniscient understand and seek the same answers as they try to wrestle with the what makes a good narrative.

I’m sure that not everyone will agree with me, but I think CRANDOLIN is a work of rebel-genius. Its not the straightforward protagonist-antagonist-challenge-resolution that readers are used to, and nor does it bring about a rounded sense of fulfilment at the climax of the story. But it will make you laugh, shudder, squirm, and for a second look at that mysterious substance in the middle of the sandwich and wonder whether you really should put it in your mouth.

In an attempt to end this humble review, I have included my original introduction, in full;

Anna Tambour is a rogue punk-prophetess whose writings not only stray from the beaten path; some of them are so far out there that you can hear the distant drums of strange story-tribes being awakened by her prose.