Mark Haddon received savage reviews for his poetry collection, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village, which followed his amazing novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. But does Haddon’s next novel, A Spot of Bother, atone for this misstep?
You wouldn’t know it from the reviews.
The Independent‘s Rebecca Pearson says Bother is “a superb novel, and I was shocked when it didn’t make the Man Booker longlist.” Meanwhile, the Guardian‘s Patrick Ness notes that it’s “a perfectly readable yet strangely undemanding novel of familiar domestic drama.” No starred review from Publishers Weekly, but the PW review insists it’s “great fun.” The Voice‘s Alexis Soloski gives it a lukewarm if positive review.
Like Fade Theory, I find it a bit difficult to gauge the book’s qualities with the current review coverage. Pearson’s review features plenty of ecstatic praise, but it doesn’t attach these plaudits to anything specific in the text. Likewise, the other reviews I’ve cited resort the majority of their space to summarizing the plot. If the reviewers are understandably jaded after Haddon’s poetry chapbook, I can understand. But The Curious Incident wasn’t exactly small potatoes. And if the reviewers can’t be bothered to follow Haddon’s career trajectory, I’m hoping more comprehensive heads might be employed to do so.