5 thoughts on “Slade House by David Mitchell

  1. THE RIGHT SORT 1979

    “Valium rubs out speech marks and pops thought-bubbles.”

    Well, this gets a double F grade, not only for it all turning out to be a dream, but also the non-dream bits turning out to be a competing dream!
    Having said that, it’s truly captivating stuff, a cross between Wonderland and Le Grand Meaulnes, as Nathan visits, with his mother, Slade House beyond an alley’s alley, as it were, where she, his mother, can perform Debussy with Yehudi.
    Nathan meets the Grayers, as the Slade House garden suddenly grows fadier.
    But what about his estranged father in Rhodesia?

    “It’s black, nothing-black, like the gaps between stars.”


    There’s something genuinely haunting about Slade Alley and the entrance to Slade House, a mix of HG Wells’ Door in the Wall or the Green Knowe books.
    Here, in this recurrent revisit by the reader – to a new time zone nine years hence – we travel via the narration of an at first believable and well-characterised (characterised by his own speech rhythms) policeman helping out a traffic warden. But one starts worrying whether this is another ‘it was all a dream’ or a pretentious literary trick by an over-arching author. Probably both. Until Ruskin is mentioned and the portraits on the wall? And I the reader feel entrammelled, like the latest leasehold spear-carrier narrator is himself gradually entrammelled, via food and sex, by the Grayers whose subtext is possibly not even controlled by the imputed freehold author but by the reader’s own F-rated fading dream-like interpretation of it.

  3. OINK OINK 1997

    “A St John Ambulance trundles past us, not in a hurry.”

    As well as the StJA, there seem to be other very subtle preternatural links been sections happening, not sure yet. Like Ruskin, raisin in a harsh brownie, Rhodesian, as well as the more obvious Fox and Hounds game and pub link. With variations between.
    This section concerns Sally nicknamed Oink, who is part of a University student group paranormal society, who makes an empirical Narniac jaunt to Slade House, one that is genuinely frightening despite some of its “pornmare” aberrations. A conspiracy growing geometrically, section by section, a gestalt of nightmare that mixes subtle Green Knowe ghost story with John Cowper Powys ‘Inmates’ or Glastonbury Romance excesses. And even chicklit touches of romance and student fancying.
    I am not sure yet whether it all works but it’s an intriguing journey to find out.


    Did they talk about ‘backstories’ in 2006? Anyway, with the sort of latitude granted by time travel and theosophy and nightmare, anything is possible. But Freya, Sally’s sister, soon decides Fred is barking mad. Until latitude steps in again to show it isn’t Fred at all.
    Fred for F.
    Pink like an Oink.
    This book has some fine prose descriptions, a haunting central image of the urban black Narniac door etc. and some subtle links worth pursuing, but the rest is contrived and over-latitudinous. I feel this is essentially an accomplished writer but one giving the impression of clumsily working for the first time within a ghost story or dark fantasy field…
    A Whovian cross-corroboration of a paranormal Conan Doyle, HOUSE of Leaves, Blair Witch Project, HG Wells, John Cowper Powys, Green Knowe, Secret Garden and Dennis Wheatley.

  5. ASTRONAUTS 2015

    “…but this lavender’s grey. Those roses are monochrome.”
    Grayer, too.

    Astronauts in 2015? Tim Peake? Or Twin Peaks?
    This last section, for me, is disappointingly confusing with orisons and lacunae. Todash and Ka-Tets of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series now making the cut.
    But this book (a Christmas Present to me) is worth having a point of view on.
    On its memorable moments, if not on its forgettable ones.
    E not F.

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