Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lemur by Tom Bradley

Spencer Sproul aspires to be a serial killer. His locker at work (he is a busboy, or "bus-bitch," at Lemuel's Family Restaurant) is papered with portraits of murderers both real and fictitious . His apartment is also loaded with memorabilia.

Unfortunately, he just isn't very threatening (he can't even growl convincingly), and when he breaks into a woman's apartment to kill her, he gets distracted by her book (about a serial killer, natch) and reads it till dawn.

Inspired by the machinations of a convenience store clerk (who he also originally intended to kill), an expert at luring obese people into his shop to consume even more questionable comestibles, Spencer realizes that his best potential murder weapon is the restaurant itself. So he turns his creative talents to marketing — and especially to ratcheting up the effect of its mascot, Lemmy the Lemur (pictured on the cover) — and rapidly moves up the ranks by capitalizing on the subliminal power of gonzo advertising.

Satire is not a strong enough word for what Tom Bradley is doing with Lemur. Every character is painted with a bizarro brush, and yet they remain relatable. Spencer can't even use English properly (Bradley calls this "oral dyslexia"), but he isn't hard to understand, and this difference actually works to make him more engaging and sympathetic.

Readers who like their social commentary wrapped up in absurdity will find a lot to like about Lemur. You can read it as a tightly written treatise on consumption in the modern age, or as the touching story of a serial killer's coming of age. Either way you choose to approach it, this darkly comic novella is sure to entertain.

3 comments:

Tom said...

I have no idea if it's considered proper for an author to comment on a review of his own book.

But I'd just like to say thanks a million, Craig, for one of the most insightful and well-written reviews LEMUR has gotten. You covered the whole book and got to the root of it with great panache.

I can't overstate how heartening it is for a writer to know he got everything he wanted to get across to an intelligent reader. Skilled criticism is always a pleasure to read!

Thanks again, Craig.

(By the way, the link to the review's separate page is broken.)

Tom Bradley
http://tombradley.org

Craig Clarke said...

Many thanks for your kind comments, Tom, and especially for writing such an enjoyable book -- the kind that makes reviewing easy. :)

Tom said...

Craig, thanks for posting this at Amazon. It looks great sitting there on top of both the "Most Helpful" and "Most Recent" columns.

I had no idea you were among the top thousand reviewers. I can see why!

Cheers.

Tom Bradley
http://tombradley.org

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