Date Published: 5/17/2013
What they say: This darkly comic YA novel, set on a lighthouse in 1983, introduces us to the deeply dysfunctional Captain Church and his crew of social misfits, whose well-ordered universe is turned upside down by the arrival of a marine biologist, who has come to study the local puffin colony. This in turn leads to an encounter with a nasty gang of drug dealers, a surprising undersea discovery and a hamster called Steve.
I received a copy of Live Long and Prospero in exchange for an honest review!
What I say (Review): Live Long and Prospero is funny, sarcastic and kind of strange (but in a good way). This novella is based on a unique group of characters all living and working in an isolated lighthouse.
My favourite part was the many intertextual references, incorporated into the story by Pixello. These range from The Tempest and Lord of the Flies to Star Trek, Fraggle Rock and Wham!
I won't divulge the plot, but I will point out that I had not expected to read about cross dressers, gay Puffins, and THAT particular use of batteries. On a couple of occasions I had to reread sections to check what I thought had happened, had actually happened.
Captain Church (the Principal lighthousekeeper) is master of his universe, and enjoys being isolated on the island. Grumpy and set in his ways, he orders his crew/band of misfits around. Dr Chris arrives and messes with his environment.
As the puppet master, Pixello is Shakespeare, Golding and Roddenberry combined. Church is a rework of several characters from these authors (or perhaps none of them) and is a wonderfully constructed metaphor (I'll leave you to discover as for what).
Live Long and Prospero is strange and sarcastic, but thankfully I love my fiction on the wackier side. You can either regard it as an attack on popular culture or a celebration of intertextuality; I prefer to see it as a good combination of both and well worth a read!
4 Stars in my Sky!
Live Long & Prospero- extract
The following extract is from early in the book, when Principal Lighthousekeeper Church discovers a problem with the supplies. He is joined by Jake, a young 19-year-old with a stammer, who is on a temporary work experience placement on the lighthouse. Jake is curious about their new arrival, a biologist, who has come to study the puffin colony and they work out an idea of where she can sleep, involving Steve, Church’s pedantic second-in-command.
In the Mess, Church is unpacking the provisions and carefully putting everything in its allocated space. He is talking to himself, thinking aloud. “Where’s the...? Uh-oh.” He frantically rifles through the rest of one box and rips through the others before kicking one across the room, hurting his foot in the process. Jake comes in to see him hopping up and down, in pain and anger.
“W-W-What’s up, Captain?”
“Come here.” Jake does so. “Notice anything?” Jake looks intently. Immediately to the left of the stove is a shelf with a big space on it. Church looks at the big space and then back at Jake’s clueless expression. “Tell you what, I’ll give you a clue. It’s a letter between S and U, one syllable and rhymes with tee.” He waits for a second or two. “TEA, YOU MORON! How’s this lighthouse supposed to function without tea?”
“W-W-Was it on the list?”
“Yes, it w-w-was. Next to money and brain.”
“I-I-I remembered the money.”
“AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Do you know what trying to live a normal life is like without tea?”
“I’m starting to get an idea. We-we-we’ll just have to go c-c-cold turkey.”
“What kind of madman d’you think I am?” Jake opens his mouth to answer and then closes it again quickly.
“Why is she here?”
Church pauses for a second but accepts the non sequitur without question. He is very used to how Jake’s brain works. “She just wants to observe an unusual...colony close up.”
“Yes, birds. You know, those things with wings that fly around outside. Now, just go and make-up the unexpected guest room.”
“Where’s that then? And who’s gonna come here?”
“If we knew who they were, they wouldn’t be unexpected, would they? Do I have to do all the thinking around here? Use Steve’s room.”
“W-w-won’t that be unpopular? With Steve for a st-st-start.”
“He can share with you.” Jake starts to protest. “No B-B-Buts. Desperate times call for desperate measures. He can use some of my cupboard space.”
“He won’t be h-h-happy.”
“No change there then.” Jake strops out like a surly teenager.
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