Pluto’s in Uranus by Patrick Haylock
Once there was a man called Dave who had a problem. It sounds like a conventional idea for a story, but when Patrick Haylock writes a novel about it there is very little conventional about it. Dave has a strange outlook on life in this surreal and very funny book about a man just trying to find the money to pay back a work syndicate after he disobeyed their instructions and followed his horoscope that black cats would be lucky. The description of the book says he meets “an intriguing hotchpotch of larger than life characters”, which is an understatement. The characters in this novel of a frantic few days of Dave’s life surely defy description, even though Dave does his best. His parents are memorable, a vicar has an outrageous turn of phrase, and his two companions on a surreal journey combine acceptance of every odd situations with their own memorable contributions. This is a funny, surreal and fast paced book that is always unexpected, and never lingers long over the improbable. Memorable for the right reasons, I was certainly interested to have the opportunity to read and review this book.
Dave is person of habit, compelled to consult his horoscope first thing every morning. On reading that day that black cats and new friendships are on the way, he ineptly decides to place a large bet with other people’s money, a decision he quickly regrets. Given two weeks to remedy the situation, he decides that he must raise funds rather quickly, but not just by a simple bank loan which would have been too predictable for this novel. On consulting online advice, he comes up with a list of money making ideas. He discovers that a church is offering the opportunity to sell unwanted items, so he raids his house for suitable objects. It is this sale which causes him to come into contact with a whole range of characters that have very individual talents. I particularly liked the story of his father, whose lack of success in actually growing vegetables in his garden had been concealed by judicious purchases from the supermarket by his wife and son. To give more away of the plot would be unfair, but suffice to say that a memorable journey by a unique conveyance is well worth waiting for, as well as the people encountered along the way.
This is a unique and very funny book which takes a little getting used to, but is really worth exploring for those who enjoy the different and unusual. Dave is a character who is seen as obsessive, and yet is always well intentioned. I especially enjoyed the church sale, with all of the mistakes that a first time visitor could make, and his luckless encounters with those eager to get a bargain. Those he meets are worth encountering, and their enthusiasm to help in his quest is very funny. Getting advice from the assortment of people he meets is perhaps not the most straightforward way of dealing with the situation, but that certainly contribute to a very funny set of events. This is a memorable and unusual book, and I recommend it to those with a taste for surreal humour.